A Visionary Destination

A Visionary Destination

by Stephen Atwood

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The 50th annual Display Week event took place in Vancouver, BC, on the beautiful west coast of Canada.  Despite a relatively long plane ride for many of us, the trip was well worth it.  I arrived a couple of days early so I could get a taste of the local ambiance before the crush of activities ahead.  Vancouver is a beautiful city with an endless array of activities.  It is very walkable and features some of the best natural scenery I have ever seen.  One example is Stanley Park, which encompasses about 1000 acres of beaches, rainforest, and hiking trails.  I spent most of a day there, following my own advice from last month about finding balance, and enjoyed some majestic views along with learning a lot about the local environment.  

Needless to say, this was truly a visionary destination for Display Week 2013.  If you were one of the lucky ones there then you know what I’m talking about.  The exhibitions of new technology delivered on their promises as did the great paper presentations and seminars.  There was a lot to see and do, and as I’ve observed every year, it’s more than any one person can absorb. That’s why we bring in a team of experts to cover it all for you.  So, whether you were there or not, you’ll certainly value the articles we’ve assembled in this annual Display Week review issue.  Hopefully, they will whet your appetite for Display Week 2014 in San Diego, another postcard destination on the west coast of the U.S.

In our cover story this issue, Jenny Donelan reports on the winners of the SID Best in Show awards for 2013.  Each year, the award winners are chosen from a select and highly competitive group of nominees in three categories.  The process involves a dedicated group of industry experts who work incredibly hard to visit the exhibitors, learn about their latest products and technologies, and then select the very best in each category.  Each of these recipients truly deserves the recognition they have received.

No matter where you work in the display industry, you cannot avoid interacting with touch technology.  It’s become an integral part of so many consumer products and a companion of countless display applications.  This year, as our roving reporter and frequent contributing editor Geoff Walker discovered that the touch industry is moving toward a period of maturation, where almost every mainstream application uses touch in some way.  In most cases, that technology is projected-capacitive.  Now the industry is looking beyond touch to the next generation of interactive technologies, as we saw so vividly at the Touch-Gesture-Motion Market Focus conference also held at Display Week.  Geoff covers it all in his article on touch technology.

Of course, LCD technology was dominant in practically every exhibit, as well as the subject of countless papers and seminar subjects.  Despite being ubiquitous, the technology is still evolving rapidly in new directions such as ultra-high resolution, very large formats, sunlight readability, and extremely low power configurations.  From 5-in. to over 110-in.screen sizes, our contributing editor Alfred Poor has it all covered for you in his report on LCDs.

Stereoscopic LCDs burst onto the market a few years ago as a strategy to hopefully boost the sales of new premium TVs.  Although the strategy did not play out quite the way manufacturers had hoped, it did generate a new interest for innovation in all types of 3-D schemes including multi-plane projection, autostereoscopic, holography, and related technologies.  Many of these were on display at Display Week and long-time industry expert Ken Werner set about to chronicle it all for us in his review article on 3-D displays.

I sometimes wonder whether those in the media create hype or simply report it.  We can probably agree that the right answer is a mixture of both.  In the case of OLED TVs, the promise of the technology certainly created enough buzz and interest to keep everyone excited in Vancouver.  The reality did not disappoint, with another year of great demonstrations from Samsung and LG showing the future of OLED technology.  Samsung had OLED displays at Display Week but no big OLED TVs this year.  Only LG had them.  But TV was just a small part of the story, as you will realize when you read the review from our reporters Sven Murano and Anke Lemke.  You may also note that since the exhibitions in May, both Samsung and LG have released 55-in. curved OLED TVs to the consumer marketplace, as reported this month in our Industry News section.

Although not as headline grabbing as OLED and 3-D displays, flexible displays continue to evolve as well and in many cases hold promise for new and highly innovative products to emerge.  E Ink is the name everyone knows, and for good reason, but if you look beyond this iconic brand, as author Jason Heikenfeld did, you will find a rich landscape of innovations and recent industry developments.  Fortunately, Jason did his homework and scoured the show to bring us all the highlights in his review article on flexible displays and e-paper technologies.

In addition to looking back, we’re looking forward this month to the future of solid-state lighting with a pair of feature articles brought to us by guest editor Sven Murano from Novaled AG.  Sven worked very hard on this part of the issue and rightly deserves our thanks.  Highly complementary to each other, these Frontline Technology articles provide a strong overview of the market needs and opportunities for OLEDs as well as some concrete results in achieving record-setting light-output efficiencies.  I encourage you to read Sven’s guest editorial first.  “OLED Lighting Edges Closer to Commercial Reality” offers a more complete introduction to both features.

One observation Sven makes in his column is how competition from inorganic LEDs in the lighting market is strong, with this technology demonstrating increasing performance levels and decreasing costs.  Providing perspective from that camp this month is our third Frontline Technology feature, “New Milestones for LED Lighting” by author Martin Behringer from Osram.  He discusses both the historical evolution of LED technology and the latest advances of his team in achieving industry-leading performance in color and light-extraction efficiency with thin-film devices.

Last but not least, we welcome back author and SID EC member Helge Seetzen, who contributed the second of his series of articles focused on successful strategies for creating, funding, and growing new technology ventures.  This month, in “Raising Capital for Technology Ventures,” Helge explains the next steps to raising capital after you have built the necessary foundation in your startup venture.  It’s not as easy as it may look from the sidelines and I think you can avoid a number of setbacks by learning from Helge and the experiences of his team.  This series will continue for several more months and I’m already excited about next month’s offering, in which Helge will talk in some detail about the potential pitfalls of venture capital funding.

As the leaves on the trees start to turn color, and the summer holidays are now memories for most of us, I wish you all a very prosperous and healthy fall season.  We’ll be back in a couple of months with another issue focused on very-high-resolution displays and digital signage.  As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future articles in Information Display. •