OLED Is A Thing, And Other Thoughts From SID Display Week

I pulled the ripcord this afternoon after 2.5+ days at Display Week. My brain hurt, and the symposium sessions in the afternoon looked terrifyingly technical.

It does not help that English is not the first language of many/most of the technical presenters – so you get a Japanese guy, an engineer or researcher, doing a rare public presentation, on the technical merits of LED this or epitaxy that.

Really valuable stuff if you directly do that work. But for a journalist who is mostly going cross-eyed, not so much. It can be painful.

This is a really valuable event for signage people who want to understand where things are at technically, and where they are going, as well as the business side of the display supply chain. You will learn a ton, and it is wise to approach this with the knowledge that a lot of it is going to be way, way, way over your pointy head.

It is not a biz dev show for integrators, software and solutions people. There are very big brands attending this thing, but the Apple people, for example, are engineers looking at different types of screens, like AMOLED and the many foldable products emerging. They’d have no clue about or interest in digital signage.

LG was the only mainstream display company here, and is usually the case, they had a killer booth. The other guys – notably Samsung – were around, based on scanning name badges.

My head is clogged with information and I have a phone book-sized book that has the slides for many presentations, as well as enough downloaded PDFs to keep me busy on a Toronto-Beijing flight.

The headlines are:

  • Unlike the sales side of the display manufacturers, which seems to be all about size, resolution, bezels and buzzy terms like HDR, the hard-core display engineers at DisplayWeek are talking about things like manufacturing yields, contrast ratios, local dimming on backlights, etc etc.
  • OLED is more than an LG thing, and is both coming and expected to grow in a big way. That said, it’s very expensive to manufacture, which validates the high street pricing;
  • Quantum dots is a real thing, and a low cost foil to OLED. There is also quantum dots for OLED;
  • There are many acronyms I knew nothing about;
  • Video is coming to e-paper – I can’t say what that means to price, but what I saw in presentations and on the floor says this is finally a when, not an if;
  • Sony’s Crystal LED is micro LED. Samsung’s The Wall is miniLED, though the display is marketed as microLED. Big whatever;
  • MicroLED’s big challenge is production costs, and coming up with processes that will allow mass transfer of the super-teeny chips, and greatly upping the uniformity in the production of the LED die (lights). When millions of lights are needed to build a big public display, even a tiny percentage of flaws, dead lights or lights that don’t have the same properties as the majority requires costly repair or replacement;
  • There was lots of talk about the Silicon Valley and other semi-conductor hotbeds getting into the display business, because they have decades-old processes and well-established facilities to grow wafers that result in integrated circuits. Right now, the vast majority of LED die come from Japan, Taiwan and China. That might change;
  • I saw the Hisense screen that was debuted at CES, with two LCD layers (TVs and monitors usually have one). The second one helped produce deeper blacks. Between that and quantum dots film, holy crap! Beautiful screen. BOE seemed to also have a version;
  • A couple of companies I know zero about – Tianma and JDI (Japan Display) had a lot of impressive stuff shaking in their booths;
  • Your 2022 car will have OLEDs all over place, on the dash. Auto screens are coming;
  • There were holograms, aka Light Field Displays. They’re still tiny. They’re still a work in progress;

  • Local dimming is a term to take on board – the ability to turn off zones or tight little areas on an LED backlight for LCDs, which means am better ability to do blacks and up contrast levels. I saw some smaller LCDs – laptop screen sizes – and the many, many microLEDs used for the backlighting made for stunning screens.
  • Next year the Display Week show is in mid-June in San Francisco, so methinks it will immediately precede or follow InfoComm in Vegas. I found more than enough value to plan a return. Looks like I will have another extended road trip out west. SFO is freaking expensive, in the extreme, for hotels, so I will start saving soon.
  • The show is still on … there are education sessions through Friday … but I am done. 10 days away. Time to go home.
  • I took a pile of videos and pix … mostly posted to Linkedin … will replicate here when I have time. Meeting a friend for happy hour. She encouraged me to take a ride-share. Whee!