New large format display tech and firm enter the game

January 12, 2010 by Dave Haynes

When I was at InfoComm this spring I happily took advantage of press privileges and parked my butt and my gear in the media lounge down a back hallway of the event center. The halls were filled with private meeting and demo rooms, and I kept walking by a sign for something called Spudnik.

Now being old enough to remember Sputnik, the first Russian satellite, I was curious and one morning wandered in. It took about five seconds to get cornered and pretty much chased off, as this was a whisper room showing off technology that was coming but not ready to show to the great AV unwashed in the main halls of the show.

All they would tell me was that it was new large format display stuff and whatI saw around the corner looked projection cube-ish.

That was June, and the company has watched Christie’s MicroTiles come out to great attention and considerable excitement about what it could do in large retail spaces. Now we have Spudnik taking the wraps off of what it is doing, with a new brand – Prysm.

As spotted in TechCrunch, Silicon Valley-based Prysm is unveiling something called Laser Phosphor Display, which is billed as being capable of massive, crisp digital displays with very limited power consumption and long operating lives.

As TechCrunch notes, the big, automatic question is how much.

In fact, all they’ll say on their site is vaguely worded statements such as, “Finally, LPD technology breaks free of the performance limitations of conventional displays by offering high resolution, superb image quality, high brightness and the widest viewing angle at the lowest cost of ownership while consuming the least resources.” That sounds like the best of all worlds. But seeing is believing, and we haven’t seen yet.

Prysm is a company that has actually been flying under the radar for about four years now in Silicon Valley. The privately held company has over 100 employees. 

Here’s the FAQ:


A: LPD is a new category of large format displays, with the lowest power consumption and environmental impact along with freeform flexibility, long-lasting performance and brilliant picture quality.


A: LPD uses lasers to excite phosphors which in turn create brilliant high resolution pictures. As the lasers scan across the surface the phosphors emit in the red, green and blue colors with very rapid response. The lasers then modulate by turning on and off for each pixel to create an image. This method results in substantial power efficiency and extended lifetime. This benefit contrasts with conventional displays that must filter or modulate a backlight that remains on constantly.


A: The benefits LPD brings to display applications lie in four major areas, Ecovation in operation and manufacture, Long-Lasting, low-maintenance operation, Freeform design and flexibility and Brilliant image performance. LPD consumes the least power of any large display type and its manufacture requires minimal environmental footprint and resources. In addition, the LPD is self-calibrating and adjusts individual tile characteristics to ensure overall uniformity over the life of the display. Third, the Freeform capability offers endless design freedom with seamless displays of any size and shape. Finally, LPD technology breaks free of the performance limitations of conventional displays by offering high resolution, superb image quality, high brightness and the widest viewing angle at the lowest cost of ownership while consuming the least resources.


A: No, LPD consumes up to 75 percent less power than other display technologies. Prysm’s LPDs are made with low impact manufacturing processes and non-toxic materials. This translates into the lowest cost of ownership and carbon footprint of any large format display.


A: LPD displays are assembled from mass-produced components in very efficient fashion. The production of LPD does not require large fabrication plants and the energy and water resources required to produce LPD system are much lower than those associated with other display technology. Overall, the lifecycle carbon footprint for LPD displays is 80% lower than other display technologies.


A: All LPD display products are Class I laser safe and so are safe in all conditions of normal use. Like other products that use lasers like DVD players, the enclosure contains interlocks to prevent operation of the system if the enclosure is broken or opened. 

I have only seen a display across a room, while peeking around a corner, so I cannot pass any judgment on quality of image. The FAQ suggest the company is treading the same territory as Christie in talking about tiles and seams and freeform design. There will be a shootoff, no doubt, with respect to all the engineering specs and visual comparisons. But the bigger challenge in competing with Christie (disclosure: writing client) is that Christie has many, many decades of display industry experience, a reputation for premium engineered products and a vast client list. Prysm, meanwhile, is essentially a start-up.

Would love to see it somewhere, sometime.  

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