Taking Measure of 2009


Happy New Year to everyone! By the time you read this in North America, most of our celebrations are over and we're back to work, while many of you in Asia are now enjoying your New Years vacation with time for family and celebration. Despite these difficult economic times, I am finding these celebrations to be no less festive than previous years and look forward to the optimism that comes along with the new calendar. Here in North America, the new year means we'll be holding our annual Paper-Selection Program Committee meeting for the upcoming 47th annual SID International Symposium (which will take place May 31 – June 5 in San Antonio, Texas).

The Paper-Selection meeting is the critical part of the planning process for the Symposium, and despite the myriad tools available to hold virtual meetings, this valuable activity still takes place in live sessions with participants travelling to the meeting from literally all over the world. It involves a team of approximately 150 dedicated, highly credentialed volunteers, who collectively rate all 600-plus papers submitted for consideration. This carefully orchestrated process ensures that the best quality and most relevant papers get chosen for presentation. The live exchanges of ideas and candid interactions between fellow committee members work best in a face-to-face setting, and being part of this process is an exhilarating experience. The papers selected in January are presented in oral and poster sessions scheduled alongside the exhibition, business conference, seminars, and various other activities at Display Week.

To an outsider, this process may seem both outdated and a bit inefficient, but I cannot imagine any other way of getting this breadth of talented individuals all engaged in the same task at the same time. Plus, for me, it is a goldmine of information sources on the latest activities in the industry and plays a significant role in the selection of technical articles for Information Display magazine for the remainder of the year.

This month, our issue theme is Display Metrology, a topic we enthusiastically revisit each year. Display Metrology occupies a very special niche of the industry, one that is not so well understood, but vital to the success of just about every display product. Current research topics in display metrology have evolved from the early days of basic photometry and measurement methods, to very complex problems of correlating human visual perception, to physical parameters of holographic and 3-D stereoscopic displays. In recent years, we have covered everything from the latest developments in conoscopy for rapid LCD viewing-angle characterization, to pursuit-camera systems for flat-panel motion-artifact measurements. (Yes, the term "pursuit camera" means what it says, the photometer literally pursues the image in motion across the face of a display capturing the dynamic blurring artifacts created.) These are innovative technologies applied very creatively to solve relatively complex metrology problems.

When looking beyond the pure science of display metrology, one can see that the real goal is to aid developers in creating the best possible displays. Often the definition of "best" is hard to define, but good metrology can be your best friend in bridging the gap between physical hardware performance and the experience of the observers – the human side of the equation. When applied correctly, good metrology helps us realize both an improved user experience and reduced hardware cost by allowing us to focus our creative energy on the features and performance metrics that really matter.

Few know this better than this issue's Guest Editor, Dr. Thomas Fiske, a respected contributor to the field and an ardent supporter ofID magazine for many years now. Tom is also past Technical Program Chair of the SID Symposium and currently chairs the Display Metrology sub-committee and will serve as General Chair of Display Week 2010.

Among the articles Tom solicited for this issue are two very illustrative articles from Nokia and UC Berkeley about the challenges of characterizing the performance of 3-D displays, one focused on metrology and the other on human perception. Together they contribute much to our understanding of 3-D displays and what characteristics will be important to focus on for future improvements.

Also this month, we get a better understanding of some of the subtle optical properties of high-dynamic-range (HDR) liquid-crystal displays and, as a result, will have a better appreciation of their unique characterization requirements thanks to the folks at Dolby Labs. And, of course, an issue on display metrology would not be complete without a contribution by Dr. Ed Kelley from NIST, this time furthering his work on replica masks to propose a more robust method for characterizing dark character contrast. You'll see and hear a lot more from Ed in the coming months as the International Committee on Display Metrology finally unveils its first official version of the new ICDM Standard.

I hope you enjoy this issue, and it is my sincere hope that you all have a safe, successful, and prosperous 2009.

– Stephen Atwood