SID: Onward and Upward in Seattle
by Munisamy Anandan
President, Society for Information Display
For those unfamiliar with Seattle, one of the city's major tourist attractions is the Space Needle. From the top of the needle-like structure, one can see a panoramic view of the city and the ocean stretching out to the sky. The Space Needle proved to be a good symbol for the upward progress of SID's Display Week 2010. It was clear from the moment SID opened the doors on May 24, 2010, that yes, we had recovered from the Winter of 2009 (it was a sort of economic signaling of Spring – our own "Groundhog Day"). Our attendance was substantially higher compared to the previous year's show. The bottom line is that the rebound in attendance in 2010 confirms that the downturn in 2009 was mostly due to the worldwide H1N1-flu scare and the onset of a very bad economy and not the beginning of a downward trend. (A table farther down in the column supplies more details.)
It is not hard to understand as to why the 2010 attendance was higher: the location was ideal and the economy had picked up. Above all, the power of the technology at Display Week, both at the technical symposium and on the exhibit show floor, played a dominant role. The headline of a Seattle Times article on the show read: "The Future of Display Is Here." What one sees at the Consumer Electronics Show and other popular expos as novel display products are those that were intensely researched by SID members and demonstrated at Display Week many years earlier.
A case in point is 3-D. The world is now gearing up for 3-D, but the technology has been growing within the R&D community represented by SID for many years. Consumers now use glasses for viewing 3-D content, but SID member companies have been researching 3-D without glasses for at least 15 years ("New Stereoscopic LCDs without Special Glasses," G. Hamagishi et al.,Conference Record of the 15th International Display Research Conference, 1995). The current glasses-free research involves the use of parallax barriers, lenticular sheets, special glass substrates, and optical films with LED switching. I see the future of 3-D without glasses.
Similarly, touch technology has recently created a big impact at the consumer level. Touch technology has been a focus of research within the SID community for a decade. An early interesting paper was on "A New Touch-on-Tube CRT Touch Technology," Donald Armstrong, SID Symposium Digest of Technical Papers, 2000. More recently, for 'in-cell touch,' SID's Display Week Symposium featured papers in 2005 that described the incorporation of photosensors at every pixel during the TFT process. And there were papers at the 2010 SID Symposium on 'in-cell touch,' including the deployment of Si nanocrystals to serve as photosensors. Although the current touch technology is dominated by 'resistive touch' and 'projected capacitive touch,' I'm persuaded by the trends revealed at Display Week 2010 that the future will be 'in-cell touch.'
One interesting exhibit that is bound to raise the curiosity of the large-screen-display community in the future, and has neither been covered by any media nor been exhibited anywhere else publicly to the best of my knowledge, was the 18-in.-diagonal plasma-sphere display by Imaging Systems Technology. (Plasma-spheres are hollow micro-spheres that encapsulate an ionizable gas and are mounted on rigid or flexible substrates.) One might mistake this display for the three-color LED variety we see in applications such as scoreboards at soccer stadiums. In fact, I saw a 'Post-it' sticker at the bottom of this display that read 'Not an LED display.' This technology may be a challenger to LEDs for outdoor and indoor digital-signage applications.
A major advancement in display technology reported during Display Week 2010 was the progress of oxide technology for the thin-film transistors (TFTs) used in AMOLED panels. AUO demonstrated progress in this area with a 32-in. LCD panel driven by oxide TFTs. Sony also reported on oxide TFTs. Can oxide TFTs be a solution to the problem that is plaguing the manufacture of large-sized OLED displays? Most AMOLED development uses low-temperature polysilicon (LTPS) technology for the TFTs. When scaling up to large-area panels, the uniformity of the threshold voltage over a large area is poor, although the stability is good. Generally, it takes four or more transistors per subpixel to drive each cell, and the process to make these transistors involves a minimum of five and up to 11 discrete steps. Because of this, cost is high and the yield is low. When using oxide technology instead, designers have found that the uniformity of the threshold voltage is much better, they can reduce the total number of transistors to two, and the process can be reduced to as little as 4–5 steps, resulting in lower cost and much higher yield.
Considerable progress also seems to have been made in organic TFTs, as demonstrated by Sony's rollable OLED display driven by organic TFTs.
A Successful Show
Attendees are the key to the success of any event, and SID is grateful to the attendees of Display Week 2010 in Seattle. As is clear from the chart below, we enjoyed considerable success.
One of the reasons for the increased attendance was that the show was widely covered by the media. The Seattle Times ran a full-page article on Display Week 2010 in the business section. Brier Dudley, the technology columnist for The Seattle Times, wrote extensively on the spectrum of display technologies presented at Display Week 2010. Local TV channels Q13 Fox News and KOMO 4 News broadcast directly from the exhibit show floor. Q13 Fox News threw a spotlight on LG's ultra-high-definition 3-D TV, measuring 84 in. on the diagonal. Flexible OLED display technology was another topic the channel disclosed to its viewers. The KOMO 4 News channel focused on Panasonic, LG Display, Qualcomm, and other companies exhibiting products based on touch technology or 3-D TV.
SID's Information Display magazine covered and commented in great detail, day by day, on many of the technical and exhibit events, from the keynote addresses that kicked things off to the poster session presented on late Thursday afternoon (http://information displaysid2010.blogspot.com/). Editor Jenny Donelan, with help from our experts, one among them being our Past-President Paul Drzaic, published in Information Display Online many details of the technology at the show that were not covered by any other media.
Behind the Scenes
As is well-known, SID is a non-profit volunteer organization. Numerous volunteers worked behind the scenes to enable the success of this event. SID is grateful for their dedicated and sustained service. As usual, the technical symposium drew great attention and I thank the general chair and program chair, Tom Fiske and Helge Seetzen.
I also want to mention the several event organizers for this event, including Palisades Convention Management (PCM), Display Search, IMS, Cowen-Elliott, DVD recording firm Bluesky, and public relations firm MCA. (I hope I may be excused for any omissions.) SID thanks all the organizers and appreciates the hard work done by our contractor PCM.
The SID Symposium, Seminar, and Exhibition occupy the top spot in the world of display technology, due to the technical strength SID has built over the last 48 years. This event continues to evolve, with organizers continually adding new technologies that show promise for the consumer. Last year, Display Week brought to its fold non-traditional subjects such as solid-state lighting. Keeping up with the galloping pace of display technology and display systems, SID also added a focus on 3-D displays. Interactive displays have caused lots of excitement recently, and hence SID placed emphasis on touch systems as well. These hot topics drew big crowds in the technical sessions as well as on the exhibit floor.
SID's goal is to promote the science and technology of displays, as well as the business of displays, and thus serve its members, both sustaining and regular, regardless of their affiliation and size. I am confident that Display Week 2010 has accomplished this goal. I look forward to even more progress, excitement, and continuous waves of attendees at Display Week 2011 in Los Angeles. •