DISPLAY CONSULTING

New Displays Technologies

THE INFORMATION AGE -- ARE DISPLAYS KEEPING UP?

Aris Silzars, Past President SID

Abstract: Here we explore the existing and projected markets for displays and their applications, consider the status and evolution of display technologies, and look at the next generation of products that will evolve to meet the needs of the Information Age. The influence of location-independent communications, “wearable” electronics, adaptive advertising, and interactive commerce is discussed. We conclude with a projection of which display technologies will have the best opportunities for meeting the needs of these new product applications.

In the next decade, we can expect a proliferation of products incorporating displays inspired by the continuing rapid progress in compute power, image-processing software, and communications bandwidth. This will continue the accelerating trend which started over two decades ago as the use of electronic displays in non-television applications evolved from a few specialty products such as test instruments, military systems, and data terminals to become the primary human interface with computers and data communications devices. In 1980 there were no desktop or laptop computers. Today their compute power rivals the mainframes of only a few years ago. Communications have evolved from a few "car phones" to almost everyone now being reachable independently of their location. Many of these changes were predicted by the well known Moore's Law that states that computing power doubles every eighteen months to two years. Some well-respected software developers claim that image-processing capability is currently evolving even faster. The rate of data communications and database "interconnectedness" is also increasing rapidly.

Twenty-five years ago, displays built on the solid foundation created by television and instrumentation applications, had more than adequate capability for the first rudimentary PCs and video games. For playing simple games like "pong," a monochrome CRT screen did not present a limitation. Today, the best LCD panels are still a reasonable match for desktop computers and quite adequate for portable laptop computers, cell-phones, and current-generation PDAs. But, what happens next?

The best that we can accomplish in bringing new display products to market in the next ten years has to a large degree already been set by what we know today about the basic materials and processes for creating emissive, transmissive, or reflective displays. How well we meet the needs of our colleagues in the rest of the high-technology community over the next decade will now depend on how much enthusiasm we can create in the investment community, and within the larger corporations, while being realistic in telling the world what rate of progress can be expected.

Over the next decade, the well-established display-driven products such as televisions, personal computers, and portable communication and entertainment devices will continue to drive the major markets that now represent well over $100 Billion in worldwide annual sales. However, television is finally migrating to higher image standards and personal computers are becoming just one of the many ways in which we access and process information. Other applications such as "wearable" electronics, specialized automotive uses, internet appliances, the electronic home, advertising and public displays, and a plethora of toys and games will lead the way to the creation of totally new applications of display technologies. These applications will encourage the development of an ever- growing variety of display devices. These newer applications will prove to be excellent market entry points for new display technologies just as the laptop computer proved to be for high-information-content LCDs.

The display technologies that we will have at our disposal either already exist today in their mature forms such as LCDs and plasma panels, in the early-stages of commercialization such as OLEDs, or at the materials research level such as FEDs. The mature technologies will continue to dominate during the next decade. The newer technologies will typically find their first applications in new products that in some cases are yet to be envisioned. The proliferation of products and applications that use displays will drive a proliferation of display types and technologies. New products such as next-generation PDAs and other Internet appliances will be the fertile ground that will allow new display technologies to be introduced.

The greatest successes will be the result of strong international relationships that will facilitate the transition of innovative new technologies, first into specialty products sold in relatively small volumes, eventually to be followed by the move to larger volume applications. This will be accomplished through business alliances with companies having excellent capability to develop cost-effective manufacturing processes. It is only through such international cooperation that it will be possible to meet the accelerating demands of the Internet Society for displays that are larger, smaller, brighter, more versatile, and lower in cost.

Link to PPT slide show. Will download to your computer, and can be viewed with PPT reader.

Outline of Key Points

NEW DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES for the INFORMATION AGE.

FUNDAMENTAL DRIVING FORCES

   •Compute Power
   •Image Processing Software
   •Communications Bandwidth
   •Location Independent Communications

NEW PRODUCT TRENDS

   • Limited “Convergence” of Television and Internet
   • Internet Appliances
   • Location Independent - Wearable - Devices
   • Electronic and Interactive Public Displays
   • Display Driven Transactions
   • Display Driven Work Environments

THE ELECTRONIC HOME

   • Homes and Electronics have different life cycles.
   • Computers, Entertainment, and Communications will continue to dominate home displays.
   • Computer-controlled Appliances and other integrated functions requiring changes in home
      wiring or construction will have slow and limited acceptance.
   • Complicated electronic security systems such as eye recognition will have only a small market.
   • Reliability and easy repair are important criteria.

INTERNET APPLIANCES

   • Time Sensitive Information
   • Electronic Commerce
   • Data Searches
   • e-mail Communications
   • Later - Real-time video images
   • Proliferation of Application Specific Products
   • Ease of Use - Instant Access (opposite of PC)
   • Low Cost and Virus Proof

TRANSPORTATION---CARS, TRAINS & AIRPLANES

   • Entertainment “Clusters”.
   • Navigation and Communications.
   • Minimal Usage for Basic (Dashboard) Information.
   • Need for Sunlight Readability, Ruggedness, and Long Life.

LOCATION INDEPENDENT COMMUNICATIONS

   • “Wearable” Electronics
   • Increasing Complexity of PDAs
   • Convergence of Communications and Computers
   • Communications and Entertainment

ADVERTSISING AND PUBLIC DISPLAYS

   • Large Video Walls
   • Kiosks
   • Airports
   • Sports Stadiums
   • Shopping Malls
   • Logo Sites - Transit Vehicles
   • Show Room Display Windows
   • Many Low Resolution Signage Applications
   • Tiled and Conformable

TOYS AND GAMES

   • Intelligent robots.
   • Interactive and Realistic Games.
   • Learning Aids.
   • Virtual Persons.

NEEDED--DISPLAYS THAT ARE VERSATILE AND AFFORDABLE

   • Resolution
   • Brightness - Sunlight Readable
   • Low power - Efficient
   • Large Panels - segmented, conformable, low cost

STATUS OF DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES

   • For Image Quality, All Major Display Technologies are now  "Good Enough.”
   • For most Television and entertainment applications, an NTSC (or similar) signal,
      with image processing, meets consumer needs for displays up to 40 inches.
   • LCD--Now the dominant technology for all display sizes.
   • Plasma -- Various Sizes from less than 35 to 100+ inches
   • CRT--Virtually obsolete in the U.S. but still important in other parts of the world.
   • Projection -- Based on LC and DMD technologies.

CURRENTLY ALL DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES ARE 'GOOD ENOUGH' FOR VIEWING IN MOST APPLICATIONS

   • Resolution
   • Color Gamut
   • Contrast
   • Brightness in Outdoor Environments
   • Efficiency (The big opportunity for OLEDs)

WHEN IS A DISPLAY 'GOOD ENOUGH'

   • TV -- 500 to 700 Lines Progressive Scan -- Depending on Screen Size.
     1080p is more than needed for most consumer TV applications.
   • Computer Monitors -- 1024 x 1280 (SXGA)
   • Hand Held Devices -- From less than 480 x 640 (VGA) to 600 x 800 (SVGA) for Internet appliances

 

LCDs

   • The Dominant Flat Panel Display of the next decade.
   • A difficult technology - made to work exceedingly well.
   • Still a dominant display -- year 2010+
   • New innovations possible and likely

— Temperature sensitive
— Inherently poor contrast
— Poor angle of view
— Manufacturing costs high for Active Matrix.
— Back light + filters reduce efficiency to less than 10%

  • The next decade will see lower cost, even larger sizes, and the use in all products from
      portable electronics, to computers, to televisions in every size commercially available.

 

THE NEXT TEN YEARS FOR LCDs

   • The Dominant Display Technology

— Computer Monitors (15” - 24”+)
— Television (20” - 80”+)
— Laptop Computers
— “Wearable” Electronics
New LED back lighting technologies are the next big opportunity

PLASMA PANELS

   • The first plasma panels -- direct view gas discharge and monochrome orange color.
   • Currently the best emissive display technology for larger sizes and video images.
   • Challenges

— efficiency
— brightness
— cost and manufacturing scale-up

PROJECTION DISPLAYS

  • Front Projection for Conference Rooms.
  • Rear Projection for Entertainment, Video Conferencing, and desk top monitors.
  • Competition for Plasma displays and LCD panels.
  • Many technology approaches viable -- CRT, LCD, MEMS, and combinations of light amplifiers and color converters.
  • New possibilities for color accuracy and display quality.

LEDs

   • From watches to indicator lights to stoplights to large billboards.

— Best Sunlight readable emissive display technology.
— Blue only recently available.
— Efficient - rapidly evolving uses in lighting applications, for projection displays and for LCD backlights.
— More work needed on low-cost arrays and “active” addressing.

 

CRTs

  • Over 100 Years of development
  • Still an excellent display technology - superior color rendition, especialyl for imaging applications.
  • Too big and too heavy--nearly obsolete in the U.S. but still widely used in other parts of the world.

2008 the year that LCDs took over as the major display technology worldwide.

0LEDs

   • Potential Advantages

— High brightness
— High contrast - more than 100:1
— High resolution - 12 micron pixels
— High efficiency - more than 10 lumens/W
— Wide viewing angle
— Fast response time - typically in the microsecond range
— Gray scale easy to achieve

   • Environmental ruggedness, differential aging, and manufacturing issues are remaining challenges.

FEDs

   • Too Many Promises -- Too Soon!
   • Potential Advantages

— Bright - sunlight readable
— Less than 1/10th the thickness and weight of CRTs
— Wide viewing angle
— Wide temperature range
— Large dimming range >50,000:1
— More efficient than backlit LCDs

   • Fundamental material research is continuing.
   • Manufacturing issues have not yet been resolved - except possibly for a Sony funded start-up.

NEED FOR NEW DISPLAY MATERIALS

   • Progress in Displays and Lighting Depends on New Materials
   • The Only “Breakthroughs” Occur at the Materials Level
   • Wider Applications of Displays and Lighting Technologies Depend on New Materials Developments -- e.g.       OLED’s

CONCLUDING REMARKS

   • Variety is good -- but technology infrastructure is driven by large volume applications.
   • Acceptance Threshold - when is it good enough?
   • Breakthroughs only occur at the materials level.
   • Micro-displays and projection technologies offer best new opportunities for specialized applications.
   • The future is not so mysterious once we understand the rate of progress and the path required
      from basic materials discoveries all the way to volume manufacturing of products.

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