First Transparent LCDs, Now Transparent OLEDs

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Display manufacturers always like to have eye candy at trade show booths, and Portland-based Planar Systems is bringing over what looks to be a particularly sweet piece to its booth next week at ISE in Amsterdam – a transparent OLED display.

The 55” prototype display, which won’t be a product for at least a year, uses Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology instead of the LCD layer used by Planar and others in the last 4-5 years.

The technical pitch for what will almost certainly be a premium-priced product (and keep in mind Planar tends to start at premium) is that a transparent OLED offers brilliant picture quality, exceptional contrast and wide viewing angles. “Because the OLEDs themselves emit light,” says the press release, “viewing angles are very broad and color performance is exceptional, leading to vivid, eye-catching installations. Moreover, because only those pixels that display content are turned on, a transparent OLED showing video will exhibit better contrast and energy efficiency than traditional displays.

“The vision of transparent displays, popularized for decades in science fiction movies and television shows, is now nearing reality,” says Jennifer Davis, vice president of marketing at Planar Systems. “This technology is poised to revolutionize space design, customer engagement, and the digital display of information and branding for decades to come, and we are proud to be a pioneer in this next wave of transparent display development.”

Planar suggests the transparent OLEDs will be “ideal for a broad range of applications including those in retail, museum and corporate settings. Retailers can install these displays in front of actual products to provide digital information about their merchandise, creating augmented reality experiences. Museums can use them to encourage patrons to interact with exhibits by displaying artifacts overlaid with text, images or video content designed to educate and inspire. Companies can incorporate them into their lobby, cafeteria and conference rooms as a dynamic way to present information to employees and customers while maintaining an interior design aesthetic of modern transparency. Planar’s transparent OLED will allow designers to activate glass surfaces that are incorporated into these spaces, like interior windows, room dividers and partitions.”

“We are excited to see the new types of experiences we can create with transparent OLED,” says Thomas Wester, technology director of Second Story, which is part of the storytelling agency SapientNitro (and based in Portland). “It represents an exciting new canvas to paint on, and we are proud to be developing one of the first public experiences to demonstrate this technology. Planar is a leader when it comes to innovation in transparent displays and this latest OLED technology demonstration showcases their ongoing commitment to pushing boundaries. With them, we want to encourage the industry and our clients to envision how they might achieve more compelling customer experiences.”