Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING


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Business Cards…
In my desk, I keep a box with business cards that I have accumulated from various encounters over the years.  As new ones have been added to the front of the stack a chronological order has evolved.  A few days ago, I had occasion to add a few newly acquired cards to my collection.  Since the box was getting quite full, I decided to look back at some of the older ones to see what memories they might hold. 

To my surprise, this casual exercise turned out to be more interesting than I expected.  Oh my, how the display world has changed over the last few decades!  Display technologies have come and gone.  So have companies.  Near the bottom of the stack there were cards that represented fond and not-so-ancient memories of the era of CRT dominance.  There were cards that tracked the transition of the display business from the US, to Japan, to Korea, to Taiwan, and to mainland China.   There were cards from companies that at one time offered great promise of new display technologies that are now no more.  Each business card of course also had a personal story to tell.  What happened to the bright engineers that chose the technologies that did not succeed?   Some moved on to other interesting opportunities.  Others are no longer to be found in my card file – or in the display community.

Looking through this nostalgia-filled collection, I could begin to trace a historical perspective of how we transitioned from the dominant CRT displays to LC displays in all styles and sizes.  It was interesting to see how many different technology approaches were tried because of the conviction that LC displays would never be good enough or cheap enough for large screen television -- or even for displaying video images in any size.  Various innovations were even tried to improve the existing CRTs.  It was also expected that television products based on rear projection and front projection technologies would have a significant share of the consumer market.  Yet another major new technology thrust was Field Emission.   This technology was supposed to produce superior images at full video rates that would always be better than those from LCDs.  Plasma technology was also evolving and in fact was expected to be the dominant technology for television products with screens larger than 40 inches. 

But as time moves on in my chronological card file, I see more and more LC successes and other display technologies begin to drop away.  A major effort to establish a new display technology based on field emission was made by a company called Candescent.  The closing of its doors resulted in my attendance at the auction of their equipment.   Another company in Austin Texas met a similar fate as is reflected in the business cards of the engineers that were there but no longer are.  As a result, I was once again able to acquire more laboratory equipment at bargain prices.  

As time passed, LC technology got better and better.  Virtually all the problems that were supposed to be limitations were gradually solved.  Speed of response, contrast, viewing angle, color gamut all became good enough for television.  Screen sizes grew and prices dropped faster than anyone anticipated.  My business card collection reflects all of these changes with fewer and fewer alternate technologies being represented.  The cards from US companies now mostly represent those who are incorporating displays into their products. There are only a few from recent US-based start-ups intending to introduce products based on new innovative display technologies. 

The successful evolution and dominance of LC displays is a rare and rather amazing event in the history of display technology development.  A technology that started with so many fundamental flaws and performance obstacles, so many challenges to low-cost manufacturing and the scale-up to larger sizes, overcame them all and in effect left all other technologies in the dust. 
Will we see another such dominant display technology as LCDs in the next few decades?  Some believe that OLED technology has that potential because it does not need a backlight.  However, just as we could not foresee the amazing success of LCDs so it is likewise not yet possible to predict what may come along to displace LCDs.  It took over forty years for LC technology to achieve success.  A major driving force was the limitation that CRTs had for bulk and weight for the larger display sizes.  Is there a similar limitation with LCDs that OLED technology would solve?  Right now I can’t imagine what that would be.  Given that the development time from early materials research to product dominance is at least several decades, there is nothing that I can see at this time that might lead to another major market place revolution like the one we have recently witnessed with the transition of CRTs to LCDs. 

What does your collection of business cards tell you?  If you have some thoughts on what new technology may come along and what critical display performance problem it will solve, I would very much enjoy hearing about it.  You may contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net or by telephone at 425-898-9117.           

 

19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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