Welcome to Display Week

Welcome to Display Week

by Stephen P. Atwood

Welcome to San Diego, California, for our 51st annual Display Week event.  This year, we continue what is expected to be a long run of Display Week meetings on the West Coast of the U.S., moving on from here to San Jose in 2015 and many following years in the Bay Area of California.

This year, we are on the harbor in beautiful San Diego, a short drive from some of the most beautiful mountains and canyons anywhere in North America.  Ever since the explorer Juan Cabrillo first claimed the area for Spain in 1542, San Diego has been a much sought-after region for farming, trade, and commerce.  More recently, it has become the home of many high-technology companies with numerous outstanding innovations in displays.

There are many rewarding things to do here, including visiting the San Diego Zoo, the USS Midway (site of Wednesday night’s special networking event), and especially the waterfront.  The city’s Mission Bay Park is the largest man-made aquatic park in the country, with 4,235 acres of beaches and hiking and jogging trails.  My hope is that regardless of how booked your Display Week schedule really is, you will find the time to explore at least the area near the Convention Center and enjoy what many have called one of the best climates in all of North America.

The Display Week calendar this year is jam-packed with events including the Annual Symposium Tuesday through Friday, the Business and Investors Conferences on Monday and Tuesday, the Market Focus Conferences covering interactivity and flexible displays on Wednesday and Thursday, and our outstanding keynote talks on Tuesday morning.  Included in all this is the world famous Display Week Exhibition, which takes place Tuesday through Thursday, as well as countless short courses and seminars throughout the week from Sunday onwards.  It’s impossible to see it all, so bring your colleagues – lots of them, and divide and conquer to suit your interests.

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.  It’s a wonderful mix of the expected and unexpected that awaits you.  I’ve never left a Display Week without at least a handful of stunning new discoveries that end up proving invaluable countless times in my day-to-day work.

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, and they will be hard at work covering everything they can.  We’ll have daily blog updates on the 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.

One of the most noteworthy happenings this year is the special event celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Plasma Display Panel.  Display Week attendees will have a rare opportunity to hear from and meet some of the individuals whose groundbreaking work made plasma displays possible.  Through various presentations, you will get not only a look back at the history of plasma technology but an exciting look forward at some tantalizing new possibilities for the future.  This comes, of course, at a time when we’ve heard about the closing of some plasma TV facilities (Panasonic specifically), but this cannot diminish the richness of this event and all that has been accomplished by those who conceived of this technology, developed it to practical levels, and nurtured it into commercial success.

Display Week 2014 is also home to the “Innovation Zone” or “I-Zone,” as we call it.  Here you can see live demonstrations of emerging information-display technologies by small companies, startups, universities, government labs, and independent research labs in space provided and paid for by SID.  Exhibitors are selected by the I-Zone committee from a pool of applicants, so you know these will be some of the most exciting and creative things at the show.  The I-Zone is located inside the main Exhibit Hall.

Our cover story this month is the annual Display Industry Awards, which recognize the most innovative display products and technology from all of 2013.  The list of choices for these awards was overflowing with worthy recipients and I can honestly tell you as a member of the DIA committee that the final selections were really the best of the best.  It is exciting that this year’s awards recognize a wide range of flat, curved, and flexible display technology embodiments, which have been widely anticipated for years and finally are among us in numerous exciting forms.  As you read the synopsis of each award winner compiled by Jenny Donelan, I suspect you will also be able to see just how far this industry has come, especially in just the last several years, during which these types of products were widely anticipated but still seemed so far away from reality.

Wearable computing technology is a hot topic these days, with lots of new gadgets and personal devices hitting the market.  Virtually all of these devices include a display with a user interface, and many need innovative display solutions to realize the vision of truly wearable technology vs. something portable you can carry around but is not part of your clothing or person.  With that in mind, we offer a editorial introduction on this topic by our guest editor Xiao-Yang Huang, titled “What’s Up with Wearables,” which helps explain the nature and make-up of this technology area as well as outline all the technical papers being presented this year on wearable displays.  Xiao-Yang also introduces two feature articles covering specific topics in this field: augmented vision and electronic shoes.

The first, “Augmented Edge Enhancement on Google Glass for Vision-Impaired Users,” by Alex Hwang and Eli Peli, is an easy to appreciate practical application of head-worn displays to overcome vision deficiencies in people with conditions such as macular degeneration.  It is an important topic and one that almost all of us will face some day to some degree and using commercial display glasses to help in this area is an exciting opportunity to explore.

The second article has the potential to be more whimsical:  “New Shoes? No Problem. Creating Dynamic Fashion with Wearable Displays” by Wallen Mphepö et. al.  The researchers on this project wanted to create an article of clothing (in this case shoes) that could change their appearance as needed to match the rest of a person’s outfit and circumstances.  They achieved this through the use of electrophoretic display material over the surface of the shoe to provide different colors and patterns as desired.  I admit when I first reviewed this article I was not sure how serious this was or how practical it could be.  But, as I read their work, talked it over with colleagues, and thought about the rapidly growing infrastructure around self-expression enabled by our new portable devices (phones, tablets, etc.), I realized this really is another potential serious application of display technology.  The shoes may look simple, but they are the prototype for all kinds of clothing, accessories, and even jewelry that can become a canvas of free expression for the wearer.

There has been a lot of buzz lately around the topic of quantum-dot-enhanced LCDs and whether they will pose a challenge to the potential color-gamut advantages of OLED TVs.  The discussion got started at the SID Los Angeles Chapter One-Day Symposium earlier this year, which we reviewed last month in ID.  Seth Coe-Sullivan, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer with QD Vision, made a bold prediction that the new LCD TVs (with quantum-dot enhancement, of course) will have all the performance advantages needed, including those we have been expecting from OLED TVs, to be the technology leader for the next generation.  Needless to say, there are many different opinions on this subject and we thought it would be best to let Seth explain his view in more detail, which led to this month’s Enabling Technology article, aptly titled “The Virtues of Quantum Dots.”  Here Seth compares and contrasts the various strengths and weaknesses of OLED and LCD TVs and suggests how the addition of quantum-dot technology gives the edge to LCD going forward.  So, is Seth right?  You decide after reading his article.

This month we present the fifth and last installment of Helge Seetzen’s terrific series on the venture capital world, entitled “From Idea to Enterprise – Technology Transfer Tips for Academics.”  Helge and co-author Lorne Whitehead discuss the opportunities for commercially valuable inventions that come from university researchers as well as the ins and outs of working with faculty and students on potential spin-outs.  This has been a great series that I know many have found very valuable.  Here, at ID, we are all grateful to Helge for putting in the extensive time and effort to compile it all for us over the last year or so.

In case by now you were wondering if we forgot the regular Display Marketplace series, fear not, for this month we welcome back regular contributor and well-respected analyst Paul Semenza for his discussion of the convergence of tablet PC and smartphone displays.  This is another one of those topics that sort of snuck up on us – the reality that smartphones are getting bigger and bigger while the market push for displays with more than 300 ppi continues to grow.  It turns out that the same dynamics are at work on both tablet and phone platforms and the convergence is a natural evolution of the trend first started by companies such as Apple and Samsung around 2012.  Is it a tablet?  Is it a phone?  Is it a phablet?  Will it matter in a few years? Read what Paul has to say.

And this concludes this month’s issue of Information Display.  I hope you all have a safe and prosperous trip to San Diego and I’ll see you all there.  •