Heading home, yay, after almost seven days in Taipei for the Touch Taiwan trade show.
When I was out south of Taipei in a city called Hsinchu, my car went past Taiwan Semiconductor, which has a plant footprint that would make automaker plants look like local gas stations. HUGE. That’s the sort of thing Taiwan is doing.
By day three I had very thoroughly walked the floor and saw what I needed and what was relevant. It is a show focused on manufacturers and that ecosystem, which makes sense for a country known for its technology manufacturing.
I was here on the invitation of the non-profit Taiwan External Trade Development Council and the Taiwan Display Union Association. I assume both are looking for ways to raise the profile of the country’s display tech output both with overseas buyers and focused media people like me.
My only obligation in coming here was that I write about the show and vendors – which I’m gonna do if I fly 17+ hours and walk a show floor.
The show is very different from something like ISE, InfoComm or CES. While Innolux, AUO, Corning and Eink had exhibits that would fit well at those kinds of shows, much of what was on the floor was tech aimed at the companies who make the production equipment, gear and materials that are used to produce displays.
Entire sections of this show had robotic arms and conveyor systems and testing equipment. Large booths from Taiwan companies like Epistar, primarily an LED die maker for everything from lighting to screens, were aimed at engineers, not mere mortals like me.
My two main challenges were exhibitors showing stuff that were about something or other I didn’t need to know or understand, or had marketing statements and explanations that were all in Chinese characters. The smaller stands were mostly staffed by people with limited English – which was entirely reasonable given the big daily crowds were probably 99.9999% Asian and Mandarin or Cantonese-speaking.
If you are in North America, Europe or elsewhere, it would probably not make a bunch of sense to come to Touch Taiwan just to “walk” the show and see stuff. There are better events for that, like ISE, etc.
But if you are manufacturing display tech or wanting to see what’s coming (like micro and mini LED), and knew what you were looking at, for sure. Because Taiwan is a relatively small place, you could also pack in a lot of meetings and showroom/plant visits in a few days surrounding the show.
Some varied thoughts and impressions:
Eink, which is Taiwan-based, continues to push the boundaries of e-paper. I saw an e-paper screen doing video at 12 frames per second. You need to be at 24-30 frames to emulate broadcast video, but it is a long way from the first Kindles. Color also keeps getting deeper and richer. That said, an Eink color display is in no way competitive with commercial OLEDs and LCDs for good looks.
Where I think Eink stuff keeps getting better and better is things like transit stop displays. I also saw a really interesting set of screens aimed at health care. Room signs, nursing station status screens and bedside patient information screens. The attraction is they will run off a battery for probably a year before needing a charge.
I saw that new Aopen rugged tablet that runs on Chrome. Very solid. The company seems to be pivoting from signage applications to operational stuff, like selling tools, POS screens and back-of-house tools like shipping.
Speaking of pivots, I had a briefing before the show with Viewsonic, which has been in and around signage for years and known as a monitor company. The company is undergoing a transformation process and focusing/growing very quickly in the area of large, affordable collaboration displays that don’t need to tie to specific platforms. Good looking stuff.
Back to the show …
A company called Refond was showing a proof of concept sample of a 0.49mm pixel pitch miniLED display, and had a jumbo 0.68mm (main pic). The people at the stand said they can do outdoor direct view LED at, I think, 1.2mm. Which is very fine pitch even for inside, never mind out in the elements.
There are still companies trying to market glasses-free 3D screens. Has never caught on. Don’t think it ever will. I saw a company with 8K glasses-free 3D. First thing – why? Second thing – imagine the file size of that!
People everywhere, at any show, love eye candy. There was reliably a crowd around some company’s stand that had the madly whirling LED sticks that create a kinda sorta hologrammy visual effect. As I endlessly note – moving parts fail.
There was also, always, a big crowd around AUO’s genuinely interesting artworks-oriented displays.
A lift and learn display from Innolux won a digital signage award. It is the sort of thing that was done 12-15 years ago, but as they say, “everything old is new again.” That said, Innolux is a subsidiary of contract manufacturing giant Foxconn (locals know it as Hon Hai) and they were showing a lot of great-looking displays. I am guessing some of Sharp’s new screens (Hon Hai owns them, too) originate now from Innolux.
I enjoyed the show and always enjoy the Taiwanese people, who are relentlessly nice and always want to take a photo with visitors like me. And do the thumbs up thing.
What I will not miss is a thing this show does – which is maybe common here at trade shows. Young women in skimpy outfits who roam the show with a microphone and speaker, stopping to read scripted announcements (I guess), hand out prizes and lead cheers.
Very loud. Shrill. And annoying as hell. But then again, the nerdy young guys were stopping and listening. Please don’t bring this to North America.
I found it really odd because, well, it’s 2019, and the booth babe thing is a bit offputting, I’m sure, to many/most women. Taiwan’s head of state is a woman, for Pete’s sake!
Anyway … last trade show, I hope, until ISE in mid-February. This was show 7 or 8 or something. Have lost count. Now for the 14.5 hour flight to Toronto this evening. Groan.
Thanks for having me over! That is all.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.