ISE 2019 Impressions From Day 1: Hardened LED Is Here, And OLED Is Back.

Day 1 is done and dusted at Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam, and I am happily back at my hotel, dodging extracurricular bad behavior in the hopes of actually-maybe getting a decent sleep.

Crowd – Looked busy, but not stupid-busy. I wasn’t fighting my way through or around mobs to get at stuff.

Weather – Barcelona in 2021 never looked so good. Cold here. Wet. Gloomy. Love Amsterdam, but February does not cast the city in its best light.

Common themes – Hardened and see-though LED.

A year ago, I saw a couple of vendors with early, reference (mostly) versions of hardened SMD LED modules, with that hardening done using glues (usually). The net result was an LED tile that was exponentially less vulnerable to damage, because the glue gives the modules the same rough characteristics of a wall or floor tile.

This year, numerous vendors have versions. CreateLED’s version in particular, looked good. As did Aoto’s.

As did Leyard’s – and I didn’t know until this afternoon the company was also going down that path. Leyard is the top LED maker on the planet, and have smart people, so them going this way is meaningful.

The Sony CLED also looked amazing. It is 1.2mm pitch and some variation on mini LED.

Assuming no issues develop, some version of this approach is likely to be the way most fine pitch LED is done. Conventional displays are vulnerable, and repair costs are high, so this direction just makes sense.

Mind-wobblers – Why do so many Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai LED companies invest big $$$ in getting a booth to ISE, and then populate the booth with people who either have very limited English skills, or thick accents that negate their relative command of English. I barely have command of my native language, so this is not a criticism of skills. But why spend all that money and then not be able, because of language barriers, to properly field field and answer the questions that are mostly coming in using English???

Separated at birth – I saw a Microsoft interactive whiteboard on an easel, that did landscape or portrait, that seemed “inspired’ by Samsung’s Flip.

PR – Predictably, my inbox was jammed yesterday and today with announcements from companies. I will note, yet again, that making these kinds of announcements ahead of a show make exponentially more sense than timing them for the show – when people are largely out of information-consumption mode, because they are tied up AT the show. Want to get noticed and attract people? Announce in advance, when people have time to read and plan.

OLED – If ISE was a poker game, LG pushed All-In with OLED this year. There was the giant wavy OLED waterfall. Transparent OLEDs. A transparent OLED with an interactive overlay for car configuration. Skinny bezel OLED video walls. And a wallpaper OLED that can bend and wrap around circular columns. They look amazing. The 8K version has tech that uses the OLED panel itself as a version of electrostatic speaker, with sound generated by the force exerted on the flat surface of the OLED.

Transparent LED – LG’s LEDs embedded in film look pretty much as they did a year ago. It is a cool concept, but the pitch probably needs to get better before the market will embrace it. There were numerous companies showing a new kind of transparent LED – with a transparent film that sticks to glass supplanting the hard mesh curtain walls seen to date. It looks good from the front, and the ability to just stick to glass is appealing, versus hard mesh curtain walls. BUT, either way, from the rear it looks like crap.

Mash-ups – About the first thing I saw today was a retail concept in NEC’s cool, shipping container-ish booth that blended projection sprites with an LCD. It is the next logical thing beyond those ambient halo lights that Philips does, though certainly this would be more involved and costly.

Software – Didn’t really talk to those kinds of companies today. Barely made it to Hall 8.

Samsung – Tomorrow. Same with some other big guys. Also, software. How I do this, I dunno, as Wednesday I have a breakfast, several appointments and podcast chats, a mixer to host and an awards dinner to attend and hand out a prize at. So maybe some stuff drifts to Thursday.

Should you be here? – If you need to understand where display tech is going, hell yes. Same with mounts and some distribution stuff. Less so on the software side.

It at least seems more and more North Americans are coming over.

I take the time and spend the money to get here in person, as this not tech that comes through in press releases, or Tweet pix and vids. The digital signage press contingent on site appears to be me, David Keene and Gary Kayye’s herd of camera-touting college kids.

Things that made me happy …

I get into the show the back way … taking a subway ride down, changing trains and then rolling up into the gorgeous new station from the south … it is the first stop on the new line, so it is largely empty – big yay.

ISE has got progressively better at using signs to direct people through the crazed maze of exhibit halls.

The thematic areas are pretty solid and uniform, so there are big swaths of the show that are all about microphones, speakers and home/commercial automation that I can skip right on past. The screen guys are all over, but most of the Tier 2 LED are in two halls.

Not a single humanoid robot. And no glasses-free 3D. Or VR. … but it was only Day 1.

It didn’t rain, so I didn’t have to use my new umbrella, which I assumed from the black sleeve was just black. It’s, umm, not.

A reminder that the first ever 16:9 ISE Mixer is tomorrow, with IAdea and Samsung as the sponsors. If you registered (it is sold out), please stop by the IAdea booth in Hall 8 to get your access badge. The event starts at 4. The Digital Signage Awards are tomorrow night, starting at 7, in central Amsterdam.