Welcome to Vancouver and the Future of Displays

by Stephen Atwood

Welcome to Vancouver, British Columbia, for our 50th annual Display Week event.  It feels like it was just yesterday when we were all in Boston for the last Symposium and Exhibition – not to mention the Market Focus Conferences, Business Conference, Investors Conference, Seminars, and the many other great happenings that are organized each year for your benefit and enjoyment.  This year we’re back on the West Coast of North America, in Canada for the first time.  Vancouver is known to be a great destination city and one that promises lots of options for great food, sightseeing, and relaxing away from the demands of the office.

This year also continues our year-long celebration of the birth of SID, founded in September of 1962 by a small group of visionary people on the campus of the University of California in Los Angeles.  The next year, 1963, marked the first annual SID Symposium, which quickly grew into the highly acclaimed Display Week program we have today.  Now, 50 years later, it’s amazing to see how much the Society has achieved and all that has happened in this time.  Over the past year, we celebrated our anniversary with an outstanding one-day conference and banquet at UCLA organized by Larry Tannas and his fellow members of the SID LA Chapter.

As a veteran of Display Week myself for more years than I choose to count, I strongly encourage you to look beyond the world-class exhibition and consider everything going on during the week, including more than 400 paper presentations, short courses, seminars, the aforementioned conferences, the keynote addresses, the Honors & Awards dinner, and more.  Now, take my advice: Getting the most out of your Display Week experience involves some serious planning.  Take time to review the full program and mark off the things that are most important to you.  Plan your days to see as many things as you can and coordinate with colleagues to make sure the stuff you cannot see is covered by others.  Usually, there are dozens of presentations and exhibits that I know I want to attend, but I also find many surprises that I can only discover if I explore as much as possible.

This issue of ID can be particularly useful for your planning because it features our “Products on Display” coverage, which is assembled each year by our staff to help you get the most out of the exhibition.  Also, as we do every year, we’ve invited a prestigious team of freelance technology enthusiasts to report on all the happenings in their subject areas, and they will be hard at work covering everything they can.  We’ll have daily blog updates on the newly redesigned ID web site (www.informationdisplay.org) and a full issue of post-show coverage later in the year.  If you have a question about anything on the exhibit floor, just email us at press@sid.org and we’ll get your question to the right reporter to see what we can find out.

Our cover story this month announces the recipients of the SID 2013 Display Industry Awards (for products that shipped in 2012).  Each year the committee recognizes the most innovative display products and technologies from the wide array of nominations received.  If you are around on Wednesday, consider making plans to attend the annual awards luncheon and see the winning companies receive their awards.

Our issue lineup continues this month with three Frontline Technology articles exploring the future of 3-D displays, beginning with author Jim Larimer, a human factors and imaging consultant and retired NASA scientist, envisioning “The Road Ahead to the Holodeck: Light-Field Imaging and Display.”  Jim is a very well-known researcher in the field of applied vision and human factors.  It’s an honor to publish his extremely thorough coverage of the science and future possibilities for light-field displays.  As you will learn from this article, the stereoscopic displays we currently think of as “3-D” are but a crude beginning to what is really possible when we consider how human-vision works and what we can potentially render with the right imaging systems.

Next is an exciting companion article, also addressing light-field technology, from Stephen Ellis of NASA Ames Research Center with his article titled “Communication through the Light Field: an Essay.”  Stephen’s piece introduces us to the concept of the “ambient optical array” and the information contained in light that goes way beyond the basic physical features of luminance, color, and motion. There are many fundamental challenges that developers will need to address to successfully integrate a full multi-domain light-field array display into our daily lives.  Nonetheless, our ability to perceive higher-order meaning from the light field opens the door to endless possible new experiences that a light-field camera and imaging system might bring.  Over the last few years, we’ve been building quite a library of important articles about 3-D, holography, and related topics for the next generation of immersive displays.  These two are the best we’ve had so far and will certainly inspire some more innovative thinking.

While Larimer and Ellis are focused on the potential for creating new displays, frequent contributor and well-known optical metrology researcher Ed Kelley remains focused on how to characterize these new technologies.  Addressing the challenges associated with capturing the performance of stereoscopic displays and what may follow next, Ed has developed a camera system that mimics how real people view displays and describes the methodology to capture features unique to 3-D such as crosstalk and motion blur.  Ed describes this invention in his article titled “Binocular Fusion Camera Enables Photography of 3-D Displays for Evaluation Purposes.”  This also expands on an earlier article Ed contributed to ID in September of 2011 that discussed the challenges of making accurate performance measurements of stereoscopic displays compared with conventional displays.  Reading both articles provides a broad understanding of the topic and this potential solution.

Our thanks also to our guest editor Nikhil Balram of Ricoh Innovations Corporation, who solicited the light-field display contributions and explains in his wonderful column some of the current limitations to adoption of stereoscopic displays and why we need the next generation of technologies like light-field and holographic displays.

I was very excited when the Lord of the Rings movies were released and I remember watching them in the theater and then later at home on my own large-screen panel.  Both experiences were great in their own ways, but I always thought the movies would have been even more compelling if they had been shot in 3-D.  Well, director Peter Jackson must have thought so too because The Hobbit was not only shot in native 3-D but also at 48 frames per second.  How does it look?  You can find out by reading Terry Schmidt’s article, “How High-Frame-Rate Dual-Projector 3-D Made Its Movie Debut at the World Premiere of The Hobbit.”  As the recently retired chief scientist of Christie Digital Systems, Inc., Terry gets all the really cool assignments, and this one was quite a feat of engineering and logistics.  If you do not remember his last article about setting up all the projectors for the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics, you should go back and read that one also from the August 2009 issue of Information Display.

About 6 months ago, Jennifer Schumacher and her colleagues at 3M approached us about writing an article that would describe the results of their research into a new tool to predict the relative visual appeal of displays.  Their research focused on what effect varying certain characteristics such as luminance, resolution, size, and color gamut would have on the visual appeal of displays to target audiences.  They said the tool would be based on user trial data combined with a new analytical prediction engine and could become a valuable practical model for display and display product designers to work with.  Well, naturally we were intrigued and after waiting anxiously to see their work titled “PQM: A Quantitative Tool for Evaluating Decisions in Display Design”; I’m pleased to say they exceeded our expectations.  This is a well thought-out and promising effort that I hope they continue to expand upon.

And last, but in no way least, we also present our latest installment of Display Marketplace, brought to you this time by Vinita Jakhanwal from IHS.  In Vinita’s analysis of the future AMOLED market, we learn about the challenges faced by various manufacturers as they all pursue the sometimes over-hyped promise of OLED HDTV.  She concludes that the landscape of different offerings, in combination with the ongoing R&D pursuits, is expansive but filled with many challenges to be met before we see AMOLED TVs come close to the volumes and price points of today’s LCD TVs.  Nonetheless, the technology does promise soon to exceed all our expectations and for many of you at the exhibits, you are already seeing the next generation that Vinita is writing about.

If you are reading this from here at the Vancouver Convention Centre, I, along with the rest of the ID staff, sincerely hope you are having a great experience.  If you are not here with us but instead reading from the confines of your home or office, I hope you will check out our on-line blogs and daily news updates to at least stay in touch with those of us here at the world’s center of displays (well, at least for this week).  If you want to read any of the past Information Display articles I’ve mentioned, they can be found at www.information display.org. •