Celebrating a fiftieth anniversary, the Society for Information Display held its forty-ninth Display Week International Symposium & Exhibition at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center on Summer Street, Boston, MA from June 3 to 8, 2012. Several years ago, the last time Display Week was held in Boston it was at the Hynes Convention Center in the Boston back-bay area. The Hynes is about half the size of the Boston Convention Center, but hosted more exhibitors and welcomed a packed house of visitors. This year, the Boston Convention Center housed a smaller battery of companies and opened its doors to a significantly smaller group of attendees. That’s just an observation and not a testament to the quality of the show, which was top drawer without debate.
As expected, there were numerous display technologies on tap, ranging from novel to practical to impressive, from 150+ companies from around the globe. Overall, there was a definite focus on industrial applications as evidenced by the number of display makers offering LCD modules employing projected capacitive (PCAP) touch-panel technology. Actually, this provided quite a relief from the expected deluge of over-played and under-developed 3D products that never seem to really catch on.
Zytronic demoed its ultra large format multi-touch projected capacitive touch technology, Multi Touch PCT, which operates reliably in the toughest environments. The multi-touch solution is based on the company’s robust PCAP technology that consists of a ZXY200 touch controller and a ruggedized, scalable touch sensor. It supports 10 simultaneous touch points and the multi-touch sensor solution uses a matrix of 10-micron diameter copper electrodes embedded within a thick, impact- and scratch-resistant glass laminate.
Zytronic PCAP-based touchscreens
Also in the PCAP camp, NLT Technologies and Renesas Electronics America/Europe were showing off the fruits of their latest collaboration: three mid-size color LCD modules employing PCAP touch-panel technology. The PCAP 10.4” XGA, 10.6” WXGA, and 12.1” WXGA LCD modules complement NLT Technologies’ current touch-panel capabilities that include capacitive and resistive components. The company is developing PCAP technology with multiple value added options such as surface films, cover glass, and optical bonding.
PCAP-based touchscreens from NLT Technologies and Renesas
Having recently acquired Optrex, Kyocera was strutting its latest family of TFT-LCDs using the company’s Super Wide View (SWV) technology, which promises to solve the color shifting problems common to twisted nematic (TN) displays. In addition to limited viewing angles, colors can shift in TN displays when viewing off-perpendicular. SWV aligns the liquid crystal cells in a horizontal direction so the crystal molecules spin in parallel to the panel plane instead of perpendicular to it, reducing the amount of light scattering in the matrix. It achieves a viewing angle greater than 170º and ensures accurate color when viewing from any direction.
Kyocera’s Super Wide View TFT-LCDs
Endicott Research Group (ERG) was demonstrating its versatility and flexibility in its fast and efficient migration from creating cold cathode fluorescent (CCFL) backlighting modules to the latest LED-based units. For comparisons, LED backlighting is to the current wave of displays as PCAP is to touchscreens.
Providing footprint-compatibility with the company’s existing DC-AC CCFL inverters, ERG’s Smart Force DR Series LED-driver modules are drop-in replacements that allow for fast upgrades from CCFL to LED backlighting. This eliminates costly re-designing or re-tooling of the mounting hardware and the LED drivers are pin-for-pin compatible with the inverters they replace. They also have the same length and width dimensions as well as matching mounting holes. Seven package configurations are available: DR-DMAD, DR-DMC, DR-LD, DR-K, DR-DMD, DR-8M, and DR-8MAD.
ERG’s DR Series LED drivers are drop-in replacements for CCFL backlighting systems.
Also riding the PCAP train, Dawar introduced its latest multi-touch PCT screens that support four simultaneous touch points with full gesture support: tap, flick, pinch, click, expand, and rotate. Input is effortless with finger, glove, or conductive stylus and the PCT system provides optics with 90% light transmission, clarity of greater than or equal to 97%, a rapid response, and high accuracy with no linearity calibration necessary.
With an eye on industrial markets, the screens employ a rugged, all-glass construction with a surface durability of greater than or equal to 9H pencil hardness. Made in the USA with full US-based engineering support, the PCT screens are available in a range of standard sizes from 4.3” to 24” diagonal for controller board solutions and 4.3” to 17” diagonal for Chip-on-Flex.
Dawar’s PCT touchscreens
Innovator of electronic paper displays and FFS LCD technologies E Ink Holdings had a large offering of very cool yet highly practical display offerings. The two most notable and eye catching were the company’s EPD/LED hybrid traffic light and a bicycle computer/display.
The E Ink traffic light uses far fewer LEDs than lights currently in use, obviously cutting power and related costs. Most notable is the diffusion of the lights in the signals: they are easy to see in the dark and bright sunlight and don’t look like they have a case of RGY acne.
The bicycle computer uses an E Ink SURF product to display heart rate, speed, and distance traveled. It is also easily readable in stark daylight.
E Ink’s LED-based traffic light (left) and bicycle computer/display (right).
Sharp was a force to be reckoned with in terms of a massive output. First up, the company unleashed its TFT LCD modules optimized for e-Signage (electronic signage) applications. In addition to 60-inch, 70-inch, and 80-inch Class size LCDs, the offering includes specialty modules for outdoor signage, video walls, and applications that require high resolution. The 60/70/80-inch LCDs feature a multi-channel LVDS interface and all models are optimized for 24/7 operation and full-HD. Many models have integrated driver boards for LED backlighting and pulse-width modulation dimming.
Sharp’s 60-inch TFT-LCD optimized for s-Signage apps.
Next, Sharp extended its LED-backlit offerings with 13 industrial-strength LCD modules. The panels range in size from 3.7-inch to 19-inch diagonal, filling in a number of popular diagonal size classes with more options and features.
A 4.3” LCD module extends Sharp’s industrial-strength display offerings.
One display that attracted a significant amount of attention and, at most times, was next to impossible to get close to was 3M’s cutout display of a virtual hostess. Unfortunately, the camera used to capture the 3M display was of the basic cell-phone variety and the lighting was far from optimal. However, from the brief 12s video clip you’ll hopefully get a little glimpse of how realistic these displays have gotten. In this case, the apps are endless, particularly in this economic environment. Can you say “low-power, cost-and-hassle-free” receptionist?