Display Week 2018 Snapshots
ID’s reporting crew traveled the aisles and session rooms of Display Week to find out what’s happening in our industry.
by Information Display Staff
EACH year, Information Display’s expert reporters seek out the most interesting developments at Display Week and share them with our readers via daily online dispatches. This is a vital service, because there is far too much for just one person to see and do at the show (Fig. 1).
Fig. 1: Show goers eagerly head onto the exhibition floor at Display Week 2018, one of the best-attended shows in recent years. Photo: Tabor
In the next issue of the magazine, we will feature full-length articles from each these reporters in their respective areas of expertise: Achin Bhowmik, AR/VR; Karlheinz Blankenbach, automotive displays; Gary Feather, emissive technology for digital signage; Tom Fiske, image quality and display metrology; Steve Sechrist, e-Paper and 3D displays; and Ken Werner, emissive materials.
In the meantime, the following short pieces offer just a sampling of what they saw on and off the show floor. If you’re inspired to read more, please visit www.informationdisplay.org.
Learning About High-Dynamic Range and Artificial Intelligence
Display Week’s annual Monday seminars feature speakers from various fields who share the fruits of their expertise in presentations that last about 90 minutes each. The seminars are a great way to get up to speed in areas of display technology where your knowledge might be lacking. Two notable examples this year were “High-Dynamic-Range: A Consumer Ecosystem” by Dolby Laboratories engineers Timo Kunkel and Rob Wanat, and “Artificial Intelligence: Image Recognition and Visual Understanding” by Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Achin Bhowmik.
Yes, I know that Dolby has a point of view regarding high-dynamic range (HDR). And yes, it has a proprietary scheme for handling HDR content as part of its licensing business model. But its seminars and papers are always well presented and backed up by good research by knowledgeable engineers. Kunkel and Wanat enriched their talk with a description of how the human visual system works and responds to high-dynamic range scenes in the real world. This informs the company’s approach of how to best acquire, deliver, and display HDR content. Kunkel and Wanat built a good case for the Dolby Perceptual Quantizer as embodied in SMPTE (a transfer function that allows for the display of HDR video with a luminance level of up to 10,000 cd/m2 that can be used with the Rec. 2020 color space) as a good way to encode electro-optical transfer function (EOTF) for HDR displays. It will be interesting to see how HDR continues to evolve as displays improve and HDR standards and pipelines are developed.
Bhowmik delivered a great primer on artificial intelligence (AI) as applied to image recognition. He offered a brief history of AI and a description of the breakthroughs that have resulted in image-recognition performance, surpassing that of humans a few years ago. This was enabled by using programming techniques inspired by human brain physiology, advances in computing, and the availability of lots of image data for training the algorithms. He gave us a basic understanding of how “deep” neural networks are trained with some simple examples. In addition to recognizing image content, neural networks can also be trained to achieve semantic scene understanding. Figure 2 is an example of a scene recognized and described via AI.
AI has a lot of potential, and many organizations are making some big bets on its continued development. There’s still a bit of work to do, however, before I would be comfortable letting AI drive my car or fly my plane. I do appreciate those email spam filters, though.…
— Tom Fiske
Fig. 2: AI capabilities now extend to recognizing and describing scenes, including, as shown here, a specific animal (a dog), its characteristics (black and white), and what it is doing (jumping over a bar).
Full Throttle on the Show Floor
Practically every large display manufacturer – Samsung, LG Display, JDI, Tianma, and more – showcased automotive panels at Display Week. Two trends were obvious: Pillar-to-pillar dashboard displays and bended/curved ones. Figure 3 shows a demo from Visionox that integrates two convex displays in the steering wheel.
Many exhibitors were showing automotive displays that included features such as local dimming, narrow borders, and free-form designs. Advanced head-up displays (HUDs) were also in evidence.
— Karlheinz Blankenbach
Fig. 3: In this demo steering wheel display from Visionox, the monitor on the right acts as a visualization of the rear-view camera, while the left display switches between operational data and touch control for an infotainment system. Photo: Karlheinz Blankenbach
E Ink’s Large-Format Single-Segmented Solar-Powered Display
In its Display Week show-floor booth, low-power panel maker E Ink Holdings demoed its large-format (2 × 4-foot) single-segment, solar-powered wireless display panels. This “e tile” technology can incorporate up to 96 independent segments, each fully addressable, using an 802.xx wireless protocol. The single-segment displays were shown for the first time at Display Week 2018 in Los Angeles.
The company gave demos of a 5-tile panel outdoor display (Fig. 4), using a smartphone to control the content scrolling across the top side of its booth. Each panel was powered by solar panels from the ambient light in the convention center, and we were told required less than 1 percent of the total display space.
In addition, the symposium paper, “Dramatic Advances in the Application of Electrophoretic Displays” by E Ink’s Michael McCreary provided a nice overview of what is being done with existing electrophoretic technology. One such application is the 2017 installation of more than 2,000 E Ink tiles displaying custom animations on the enormous facade of a rental car center at San Diego International Airport. (Read more about this and other E Ink installations in an upcoming issue of ID magazine.)
— Steve Sechrist
Fig. 4: Five of E Ink’s 2 × 4-foot programmable, solar-powered panels appeared along the top of its booth at Display Week. Photo: Steve Sechrist
How to Attract Venture Capital to Your Project
The quest for the unknown drives many of us at Display Week. A passion for changing the future of the display industry is in our DNA. But to support our endeavors, we need cash. Guidance in obtaining investment was a major topic of the Business Conference at Display Week 2018.
Stephen Saltzman, investment director with Intel Capital, told listeners at the Private Equity/VC Panel discussion unambiguously titled, “What We Are Looking for from Privately Held Display Companies,” that his company goes beyond the issues of market, technology, uniqueness, and prototyping. These issues are considered, but the main drivers for getting a VC or private equity group to invest in your vision are your suppliers and future customers. If they are excited about making you successful, then you are a good investment. If those around you are not personally motivated to see you succeed, investors walk away. Each of us must realize that building a passionate support team excited about our success signals great confidence to investors.
— Gary Feather
VR/AR Gets Real at Display Week
Display Week 2018 featured a special track on virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) technologies and applications. This was quite timely, given the rapid developments on this topic in recent years, as evidenced by the increasing number of companies introducing new products, and universities offering specialized courses on the associated technologies.
The VR/AR special track in this year’s conference included a keynote speech delivered by Doug Lanman of Oculus Research, a short course taught by this author, a seminar presented by Robert Konrad from Stanford University, several talks in the market focus conference, an extensive array of technical papers in the symposium, and a number of live demonstrations in the exhibit hall.
VR/AR devices promise exciting immersive experiences in the areas of gaming and entertainment, education, tourism, and medical applications, to name several. The breadth and depth of state-of-the-art results presented and demonstrated at Display Week this year showed that the virtual- and augmented-reality experience is coming ever closer to reality. When it comes to technology like AR/VR, reading about it just does not do it justice. As the character Morpheus in the much-acclaimed 1999 movie The Matrix says, “Unfortunately no one can be told what the matrix is – you have to see it for yourself!”
— Achin Bhowmik
Women in Tech Panelists Offer a Powerful Perspective
The second annual Women in Tech panel, organized by IRYStec founder and CTO Tara Akhavan, represented a sophomore slam dunk in terms of panelists and content. The high-powered female technologists, though not specifically from the display industry (except for Akhavan), had great insights for just about anyone in the business of technology, or even just in business. The lineup included Robinne Burrell, Chief Digital Product Officer for Redflight Mobile/Redflight Innovation; Poppy Crum, Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories and Adjunct Professor with the Stanford University Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics and Program in Symbolic Systems; Rosalie Hou, CEO with ELIX Wireless Charging Systems, Inc., and Nadya Ichinomiya, Director of Information Technology, Sony Pictures and Co-founder, Women in Tech: Hollywood Fig. 5.
Some sample pieces of advice from the speakers:
Robinne Burrell on career advice for young people: “It’s not all about the coding. There are so many tech areas that can get young people into the six-figure zone that don’t involve coding.”
Rosalie Hou on recognizing cultural/language differences in terms of effective communications: “In multicultural companies it’s very important to double-check [what has been said and what was meant.]”
Poppy Crum on leading: “You have to be confident being lonely in your ideas.”
This was a great event that struck the right balance between general business advice and specific recommendations for women in technological fields like displays.
— Jenny Donelan
Fig. 5: From left to right are: moderator Tara Akhavan and panelists Nadya Ichinomiya, Rosalie Hou, Poppy Crum, and Robinne Burrell.