The ISLE LED Trade Show On Now In Shenzhen. Not There, But We Have Pix And Observations From The Floor

March 1, 2024 by Dave Haynes

One of the biggest LED display trade shows on the planet is on right now in Shenzhen, China, with north of 100,000 people exhibited to walk the floors of what’s called ISLE – short for International Signs & LED Exhibition.

Here’s a Day 1 highlights video that provides a sense of what the event looks like …

I have thought about going to ISLE or another I think is called LED China (in Shanghai), but it is one mother of a flight. Canadian business people are also a little jumpy these days about traveling to China because of an episode referenced as the Two Michaels – two men held for more than 1,000 days on spying charges, arrested and indicted just days after the arrest in Canada of Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou. They were released just days after she was released from house arrest in Vancouver.

“You’re not going to China,” I’ve been told.

Anyway … not there, but I know someone who is … and he has been feeding me back observations and lots of photos.

My favorite, by a mile, is a guy at one of the stands wearing a ball cap that has one of those madly-spinning LED light wand thingies married to the top. It is, I assume, running off a battery.

I wonder if he will have all of his fingers by the time the show shuts down. How often do you absentmindedly scratch your head?

On closer examination, I think he has one strapped to his left arm, as well, albeit with a cover on the thing.

There are at least 100s, and probably 1,000s, of LED manufacturers in the vast Chinese domestic market, most just selling inside the country or around the region. So while there are familiar global LED brands that we all see at ISE and InfoComm – like Leyard, Unilumin, Absen, LianTronics, Ledman, AOTO and BOE – there are countless smaller companies also showing product, of varying quality and corresponding price points.

Very few of these smaller manufacturers know much about, and certainly don’t do, things like electromagnetic testing or get UL certifications. So if they are exported and used in the US, the importing companies can get fined if caught without safety approvals like UL testing.

Not surprisingly, the ISLE show floor has endless gimmick displays – the kinetic walls with LED drawers that slide in and out, sphere’s that open and expand, and all kinds of variations on the super-thin, LED-embedded perforated material that Chinese manufacturer Muxwave markets globally. My contact counted at least seven companies with similar product touted as being almost invisible and suitable for glass surfaces.

Here’s a close-up …

The other trend he notes is that pretty much any product that is sub 1mm pixel pitch is being called microLED, even though the technical definition of microLED relates to the size of the light emitters, not the distance between them on display module. There is very little true microLED on the market … yet.

My contact says numerous companies at ISLE are demonstrating a relatively new concept called COB pixel sharing, or virtual pixel displays. It is more than a little complicated to explain, but the idea is that instead of each little pixel set having a distinct output, it can share and contribute to the visual output of adjacent pixel sets. The premise is that algorithms driving the displays can create four virtual pixels from one physical pixel set, virtually reducing the pitch and boosting the resolution.

One small problem, my expert-level contact notes: “It all looks like shit. They tell you it has a 4mm pitch, but it really has an 8.”

There are also some curious company names, and product names. What the heck is Glare LED? Maybe anti-glare? So bright it overpowers glare? I dunno.

The show has one more day. If you are in Shenzhen, or nearby on Hong Kong (you can take the Hong Kong subway to a Chinese border crossing … done it), the show is at the Shenzhen World Exhibition & Convention Center, just past the city’s gorgeous airport.


  1. Marc Amstoutz says:

    Hi Dave, I was attending the ISLE show this year, one month after the ISE. That one is going deeper with technology, while the ISE is offering much more space for integrators and thrid-parties vendors, the ISLE is focusing on LED and chip makers. A unique occasion to know what’s coming from the LED-chip founders within the next 2 years: MIP, true Micro-LED, COG, etc. Next one not to miss is Infocomm China in Beijing.

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