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Choosing the Right Words

by Stephen Atwood

Welcome to the September issue of Information Display, featuring a focus on Applications and a continuation of our coverage of Display Week 2012 activities. This month we are highlighting Geoff Walker's review of all the touch technology shown at Display Week, including the many significant technical advances reported there. Touch has grown to be a large segment of SID's annual conference and Geoff has the best perspective on this technology of anyone in the industry. We're sure you will find it interesting and informative.

Along with touch, the buzz about reflective displays and their applications was significant both during and after the show. Our Industry News segment this month talks about an important change of direction for Qualcomm's mirasol displays and points to what we're seeing as consolidation in the low-power reflective display landscape. At the same time, we received some more mainstream validation that e-books and e-readers are here to stay, as both terms were recently added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. These entries define the electronic instance of the books as "e-books," while they define "e-readers" as the physical devices. Of course, by this time people refer to applications as e-readers and I'm even told that on Facebook the term "e-reader" is applied to a person who reads books and similar material via an electronic format. So, the term refers to the user as well as the device itself. But this is nothing new.

We take lots of liberties with terminology in our industry. We call some LCD TVs "LED" TVs and we specify "brightness" when we really mean "luminance." In fact, the whole category of flexible displays is largely ambiguous because the "flexible" adjective can mean bendable, formable, moldable, or almost anything else. People often use terms like "readability" and "resolution" in ways that seem to make sense only to them. It can be a challenge to preserve the real meaning of well-known terms as well as decipher the meaning of new words that seem to appear overnight.

What matters is not the terminology itself, but how accurately we define it and how consistently we use it. That's one of the things we try to watch for here at ID. We carefully review our content to ensure the vocabulary being used is consistent with the standards in the applicable field and each uncommon term is explained well enough that the topic can be more easily appreciated. Such was the case with both of our applications articles this month. All of our authors did a great job not only explaining the nuts and bolts of their topics, but also helping to clarify the terminology and definitions of terms that may not be commonly used (or used correctly) unless you are more deeply involved with those subjects.

Our first application feature, "Front-of-Screen Display Components and Technologies," was written by a team of people from Qualcomm: Ion Bita, Marek Mienko, Rashmi Rao, George Mihalakis, Russel Martin, and George Valliath. A variety of methods and technologies are described for enhancing the high-ambient readability and performance of reflective displays, though many of these methods are commonly used on emitting displays as well. It's a set of recipes and a good primer that you will want to keep bookmarked for a long time to come.

Our second application feature this month is a follow-up to an earlier Frontline Technology article we ran on Cambrios's silver-nanowire transparent conductor technology in the January 2012 issue. This issue's article, titled "Laser Patterning of Silver Nanowire," delves into the details of laser-ablation processes and provides some very promising process results. Author Terry Pothoven from Laserod Technologies provides a good summary of the pros and cons of both ITO and silver-nanowire materials and demonstrates the potential throughput and manufacturing process advantages of silver for both display substrates and touch-screen applications.

We also continue this month with our celebration of the Golden Anniversary of SID with Part 2 of our History of SID series, written by long-time SID members and compiled by Jenny Donelan. By looking back at the original formation of our Society and tracing its expansion across the world, as well as noting some of the most important technical milestones first displayed at SID exhibitions, the article shows how significant SID's impact has been to the larger engineering and technology community. The authors also describe the key contributions made by early SID founders and how far-reaching their early vision has become.

We're fortunate in this industry to have a lot of 'eye-candy' associated with what we do. I noted in an earlier editorial that one of the benefits of this is that I can show my family what I have been working on and they can appreciate the value of it. We all spend countless hours at our jobs, usually much more than we do in any other aspect of our lives. In many technical endeavors it's hard for outside observers, including families, to fully appreciate the impact and challenges of the things being developed. And, while there are certainly lots of esoteric concepts and challenges in the world of displays, the ultimate success can almost always be appreciated visually by all of us – whether in the form of tablets, HDTV, or 3-D movies. I'm proud to be a member of our fine Society and a contributor to our industry. I'm looking forward to the next 50 years, which I can only imagine will be even more groundbreaking and exciting than the last 50. •