Electronic Design

SID 2008 - Electronic Design Preshow

The Society for Information Display's (SID) annual international convention and exhibition opens Sunday at the Los Angeles Convention Center for an expected 9500 engineers and scientists. The event is devoted to electronic information displays and it is a place to learn from the experts about the “hows” and “whys” of display device operation. It is a showplace for emerging display technologies and devices, and is a great source for a high concentration of knowledgeable individuals in the display industry.

The first SID show was held in Santa Monica for the benefit of a few hundred attendees over forty years ago. It has seen the birth of liquid crystal devices (LCDs), Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) and Digital Multi-mirror Devices (DMDs), or DLP which is the engine for many projection displays, and “electronic paper.” And SID also has seen the virtual death of the once-dominant CRT (cathode ray tube), along with its exotic entourage of neck components and high-voltage circuitry.

Digital flat panels and projection devices have created new industries: big screen TV, tiny screens for personal appliances, and super-sized electronic signage. Revolutionary changes in television sets and mobile telephones could not have happened without advancements in display devices.

There is no doubt that LCD—with its many different incarnations—is still the gorilla in the room. One third of the papers in the technical program apply to various aspects in LCD design, manufacturing and application. We expect to see a 82-in. LCD TV panel and tiny “near eye” LCD micro displays at the show, and a Tuesday evening session titled “AMLCD World Domination: Does Anything Stand in the Way?” will consider the possibility that LCD will dominate TV as CRT did for over fifty years.

OLED has been chugging along for a decade, gradually picking up applications as panel sizes and life expectancy have improved. While LCD is used in most mobile products today, expect to see OLED making serious inroads into smaller lower-power displays. Strong interest in OLEDs can be gauged by the fact that it is the second most common topic in the symposium, represented by about one-fifth of the papers.

A significant milestone was reached late last year by Sony, whose 11-in. OLED TV set received the SID Display of the Year award and will be the subject of a Tuesday keynote address “Sony’s Challenges in Launching the World’s First OLED TV.”

Gildas Sorin, CEO of German OLED maker Novaled, thinks that OLED is ready for prime time. "The recent introduction of the first AM-OLED displays on the market brings the performance and design advantages of OLED to the public’s attention . . . performance, lifetime, platform, critical mass and cost now are combined to serve an established industry."

OLED Association will be announced during Display Week with more than ten manufacturers banding together to coordinate the language used to specify and market OLEDs—a strong indication that OLEDs are moving up the food chain. This new coalition will work towards ensuring that numbers from various member companies mean the same thing to customers.

Growing concerns about environmental issues are represented in a keynote presentation “The Evolution of Green Products and Production of TFT-LCD Industry.”

Display devices have a way of creating markets for other devices. LCDs need backlights. Projectors need lenses and light sources. Interactive displays need touch input devices. The display interface needs specialized driver circuits for optimum speed and power consumption. Special test equipment is needed to satisfy procurement and quality needs, and to help with engineering design decisions.

While the SID has dropped its standalone conferences on display applications, SID will include the “Display Applications Special Session‚” on Thursday, covering specification and design issues.

New display/control interfaces such as integrated touch screens are replacing or supplementing keyboards, mouse-driven cursors and pushbuttons in many applications. This trend is shown in the technical program and in the exhibits where touch screens will be featured by 3M, Fujitsu, and others.

Product announcements include Dialog Semiconductor enablers for passive matrix OLED, Uni-Pixel Displays’ color TMOS display panels, Leadis Technology’s display and touch panel drivers, and ZBD Displays’ expanded range of e-paper displays.

Backlighting of LCDs by compact fluorescent lamps (CCFL), and more recently by light emitting diodes (LEDs), has attracted significant SID activity, dealing with critical issues of uniformity, life, color and power consumption. Dynamic operation of LED backlights is being used to expand dynamic range and color space. A “green” advantage of LEDs is the absence of Mercury, which is found in CCFL backlights. A recently issued report by iSuppli Corporation predicts rapid adoption of LED backlights for notebook computers and high-end TV sets.

Concepts of 3D/stereo have re-emerged for movies, thanks in part to the availability of high-quality display technology and the conversion of movie distribution and theaters from film (analog) to digital formats, bolstered by 3D benefits for games and medical imaging. A special Wednesday afternoon session on 3D in Cinema will feature invited speakers covering content creation, editing and post production, and theatrical display.

If you are unable to attend the show, watch for more coverage here as we’ll be reporting all the big announcements and highlights from the show.

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