A Very Intense Week


Paul Drzaic
President, Society for Information Display

By the time you read this, the SID 2009 Symposium will be long past, and in the Northern Hemisphere we will all be getting near the end of our summer. Still, the Symposium is the most important offering that SID provides its members, so a recap is in order.

It is not possible to review the meeting without recognizing the extraordinary events that shaped the year. The worldwide economic crisis that began in late 2008 tightened travel budgets for nearly every company. We also had the misfortune of the eruption of the H1N1 ("swine flu") pandemic in early 2009, right about the time when people were making their travel plans. I heard privately that many companies made it extremely difficult for employees to get approval to travel for any reason due to fear of the flu.

So, not surprisingly, attendance at this year's meeting was light. What was surprising to me, though, was the intensity of the attendees who did come. A large majority of the participants at SID 2009 had very serious reasons to be there, and making their presence known at the symposium took precedence over both monetary concerns and possible health issues. Speaking to exhibitors and symposium organizers alike, I heard that the people who did attend SID 2009 were quite engaged, which helped make up for the lower head count.

So what did we see at SID 2009? Several themes were evident. OLED displays were quite prominent, ranging from bright, beautiful televisions, to head-mounted displays, to super-thin flexible examples, to displays for mobile devices, to simple screen-printed indicators. OLED displays are making a major statement through a wealth of technical approaches and market strategies. Not every approach, nor every technology, will succeed, but there is enough momentum to remove any doubt from my mind that OLED displays will be one of the major growth media in the coming years.

Electronic paper was another ubiquitous theme, with bigger and more refined displays being shown by a number of companies. This year brought better color, some improved animation capability, and higher-quality flexible displays compared to past years. Examples of MEMS, liquid crystal, and electrowetting displays showed that there will continue to be strong competition in e-paper technology for some time.

Other hot areas included pico projectors, 3-D displays, and touch interfaces, as well as the usual improvements in the incumbent LCD technologies. Overall, it is clear that the display-development community remains vibrant, and SID showed the technologies that will help lead the industry out of the current recession.

Finally, a word on future Display Week locations. While San Antonio was quite nice, and the nearby River Walk an easy place to escape to, we have also heard that SID's major exhibitors strongly prefer more mainstream meeting cities, with easy access from overseas. SID has responded to these requests, so that next year's meeting will be held in Seattle, and in future years in places such as Los Angeles, Boston, Las Vegas, and San Diego, and possibly San Francisco. So, I look forward to SID 2010 in Seattle; be assured that we are already planning some special themes for that meeting. •