MicroTiles technology from Christie makes big screens inside more viable

November 12, 2009 by Dave Haynes


Christie is well known in the display industry as a manufacturer of high-end digital projection systems, but the company will also be known now for a new display technology that may actually earn the slightly tired tag of revolutionary.

I have not yet seen it, but there is a function tonight in New York where it will be on show.

In essence, Christie’s new MicroTiles are modular display units that can be stacked and clustered like building blocks to create display walls of any shape or scale, using an entirely new, advanced optical design that produces very high quality brightness, contrast and color reproduction.

The system has very wide viewing angles, and a near absence of seams on display walls, with only a one mm gap between the tiles. The  key component, the tile’s LED light engine, is rated at 65,000 hours usage, or nearly 7.5 years of continuous operation. 

The color reproduction is apparently wildly good, according to people I know who have seen it, with 115% of the color spectrum of NTSC broadcast signals.

Servicing is dead simple and the tiles are all self-aware, meaning there is is no calibration work needed to keep all the tiles at the same levels. The tiles “talk” to each other steadily and balance out the brightness and saturation on a steady basis.

I have been doing some writing for Christie lately, but like a lot of people have been hearing about this project for about two years. It really does have the possibility of changing the way motion visuals are done in big spaces. LED boards cost a bunch and look terrible up close. Projection systems need a LOT of maintenance and the brightness and contrast are tough to get right in well-lit areas. And LCD and plasma panel arrays have considerably thicker seams.

What I like about these tiles is that those compromises go away, and a lot of opportunities to do big visuals in public spaces open right up. One of the reasons digitals screens have not been very successful in places like retail is that the screens that have been put in are too small to be impactful. What looks huge on a living room wall looks teeny hanging from the ceiling in a supermarket.

LCD arrays are starting to get pretty thin bezels, but there are still very noticeable seams (see the new Microsoft store screen walls). There is also a seam with these tiles, but is a hairline.

I also like that Christie understands the importance of content and has engaged a lot of the top digital screen content shops out there to start showing off the product.

I will post again on this when I can pass on some direct impressions. Adrian and his DailyDOOH team have also posted extensively on this. 

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