Drawing Inspiration from Display Week
by Stephen P. Atwood
Welcome to the annual Display Week review issue, which covers highlights from our terrific gathering in Los Angeles last May. As I promised, it was one of the best in recent years, with an amazing array of innovative demonstrations and clever embodiments of the latest display developments.
A number of things caught my eye as noteworthy this year, including the truly stretchable OLED display demonstrated by Samsung, the LCD-based headlight concept from IGM at the University of Stuttgart in the I-Zone, and a mobile phone-based 3D display from LEIA that resembled the artist’s rendering on our January 2017 cover a lot more closely than you might think. (That issue includes an interview with LEIA founder and CEO David Fattal.)
In my experience, many aspects of different Display Week events over the years start to blur together, but the key pivotal exhibitions and announcements stand out regardless of the time that has gone by. For example, I remember vividly the first OLED TV panels shown by LG and Samsung, the first demonstrations of Texas Instruments’ DLP technology, Sony’s clever idea for a plasma-addressed LCD, the panel-size wars in both plasma and LCD technology, the first papers on oxide TFTs, and the liquid-crystal-on-silicon microdisplay emergence, among others. Depending on what field you work in, I’m sure you can name dozens of other milestones and seminal moments like these.
Display Week Reviews
So, with minimal introduction, let’s dive right into the review articles compiled by our team of contributing editors, who took the time to chronicle their subject areas for you. Materials were a big topic this year, with several headliners. Ken Werner took the assignment and covered all the highlights in his article, “Materials and Other Game Changers.” We saw a lot of action in quantum dots, a result of companies moving toward RoHS-compliant solutions for LCD enhancement while pursuing several embodiments for direct emission enhancement as well. New players have come online and familiar ones are expanding their scope.
In the OLED space, there was substantial activity around thermally activated delayed fluorescence (TADF) – which we also covered earlier this year in ID – as well as some incredible demonstrations of OLED displays. And there were innovations in reflective materials, including foldable E Ink technology and a new entrant named CLEARink that washowing video-rate updates on a reflective platform. CLEARink won a Best in Show Award from SID this year.
Automotive displays and their applications were a very important subject this year, both on the floor and in the presentations. Author Karlheinz Blankenbach reported on many of the key developments in his article, “Automotive Displays Proliferate at Display Week,” in which he showed how we are just starting to imagine all the ways displays can be deployed in cars, and what that means to developers in the coming years. My favorites at the show included the all-glass custom-format display concepts, and the systems that can replace mirrors and enhance perimeter awareness while you drive. But displays that can meet these needs must achieve even greater performance and “flexibility,” and yes, I use that term to mean several things at the same time. Enjoy the article and you will see what I mean.
You might wonder why I did not just mention head-up displays (HUDs) in the past paragraph. It’s because there was so much to talk about that we separated the topic into its own review article and convinced well-known analyst Steve Sechrist to survey it all for us in his contribution, “The Expanding Vision of Head-Up Displays: HUDs for Cars at Display Week 2017.” It always feels like the promise of a virtually augmented view through the windshield is just a little beyond the technical frontier when the concept people describe all the really compelling possibilities. Well, as we look at what Steve found, you might conclude that a lot of moving parts, including ergonomic requirements, hardware concepts, and implementation ideas, are all finally starting to converge into an ecosystem that is not that far away.
One of my first passions in display work was optical metrology. Fresh out of college, I was privileged to work in a well-equipped lab facility where I learned not only the mechanics but also the subtleties of crafting good measurement methods to produce results that were meaningful to end users. That passion has stayed with me and fueled my enthusiastic support for the work of the International Committee for Display Metrology (ICDM).
The dedicated people involved in this effort also helped organize the first-ever Display Metrology Training Course. Well attended and well organized, this event will surely be popular again in the future. Tom Fiske, a key leader of the ICDM and SID Standards Committee, graciously agreed to cover this subject area with his article, “Metrology and Image Quality Play Starring Roles at Display Week 2017.” Tom did a great job explaining how the new technologies that are developing today directly affect the work being done in metrology. It’s an exciting time to be part of this field.
Digital signage is everywhere. From retail sites, to sports venues, to public areas, and more, electronic displays are being deployed for targeted public messaging. And, as in any other tech field, there are some disruptive evolutions moving the platforms first from projection and CRT screens to LCD screens, from low-resolution bulbs and LEDs in billboards to very high-resolution LED panels. In “Digital Signage at Display Week 2017,” author and entrepreneur Gary Feather provided both a short history of the platforms and marketplace and a great survey of where we are today supported by the papers and exhibits at Display Week. There are many new innovations emerging, including high-resolution, low-power, reflective displays and ultra-high luminance fine-pitch LED building blocks. The really cool thing about this subject area is that you don’t have to look far or spend a lot to enjoy the real products – the industry wants to bring them to you as fast as it can!
Best in Show Awards
Each year at Display Week, the members of the Display Industry Awards Committee recognize the best exhibitions by conveying on them the Best in Show Awards. Who won this year? Well, you can guess a few by looking at our cover, but to know the whole story, read our coverage of the “Best-in-Show and I-Zone Winners” written by Jenny Donelan. It’s always a privilege to take part in this process alongside some of the best-credentialed people in our industry. These highly coveted awards have become a mainstay of the event.
Along with great technology, there is always a lot of business going on at Display Week. Every technical field in play has a business case behind it, and in many cases, a very complex history of strategies, entrants, successes, and, well, sometimes a lack of successes. One company that has navigated the challenges in the OLED space and built up a truly impressive patent portfolio as part of its business strategy is Universal Display Corporation (UDC). During the show, Ken Werner gathered inputs from UDC VPs Janice DuFour and Mike Hack to understand more about the moving parts of their business and technology investments.
For those paying attention, UDC has been on the forefront of OLED material development as a research company, often making significant leaps behind the scenes while working with some of the biggest commercial display developers in our field. With over 3,000 patents and about 23 years of work behind it, UDC can easily be seen as a standard bearer for innovation. Ken’s questions included probing the future of OLED materials lifetimes, new technologies for blue emitters, investment strategies, and where the efforts need to focus in the future. It’s a nice wrap-up for our Display Week review package, but for this issue, we’re not done yet…
Have you ever tried to cut glass? People have been doing it for centuries, and of all the key steps in making displays, I would have thought this one would be fairly well matured. But just like many other things, there are always compromises and disadvantages to the status quo. For example, mechanical scribe and break cutting is generally limited to straight lines and edges. Exotic features such as curves must be achieved by grinding, and holes need to be drilled. Scribing, grinding, and drilling processes make lots of debris and display makers hate debris. Dust, glass particles, and all manner of dirt can wreak havoc on yields in multi-billion-dollar fabrication lines.
Hence, the recent interest in refining and improving the technology for cutting glass with lasers. Different lasers (frequency, power, beam patterns, etc.) have different properties and can be used in different ways to improve the process for cutting glass, especially into complex shapes and patterns much in demand for innovative display formats.
Authors Jürgen Serbin from Rofin and George Oulundsen from Coherent broke this all down for us and provided a very informative survey in their Making Displays Work for You feature, “Lasers Improve Display Glass Cutting.” I’m sure you will find it very informative. Take a moment while reading it to imagine what new and creative display-panel formats you could create with this capability. I think this is a great way to wrap up this issue, which is sure to inspire you with new ideas for your own field of work.
Welcome to Fall
With that we bring our fully packed September–October issue to an end. As you enjoy your late-summer/early-fall season, I hope something you read here inspires you to find new ways to achieve great things in your own endeavors. Inspiration and fresh ideas can come from almost anywhere, and hopefully the work our great team of contributors has done here will help provide that inspiration for you. •