The future of display technologies
| by Michael Eckstein
TV manufacturers have shown off ultra-thin OLED TVs as concepts at trade fairs for the past several years, but they finally hit stores in some parts of the world in late December 2012. The models are between 4 and 8 mm thick and are not exactly cheap—the first ones cost somewhere between Rs 5 to 6 lakh. However, image quality has taken a quantum leap and OLED TVs will be a lot more affordable once mass production begins. For mobile devices, a new generation of small screens with HD resolution is already available. In the future, these devices will be even slimmer thanks to new technologies. E-book readers with colour e-ink displays are already being sold in parts of Asia, and it is only a matter of time before they will become more mainstream.
Futuristic concepts are available today
A lot of technologies that we will use in the future seem strange; almost like science fiction. Interactive data glasses, see-through touchscreen displays and flexible e-book readers are only a few of the things that are already quite possible. Even common consumer devices will eventually move to materials and manufacturing processes that improve their performance and efficiency. This means that things like displays on car windscreens and images on artificially generated fog will soon be commonplace. It seems as if researchers are using any possible surface to display an image on. There’s lots of excitement in this industry, and we’re here to show you which ones have the most potential and which visions will become reality soon.
Television: Organic light
LG's 55 inch OLED TV is just 4 mm in depth
TVs with edge-mounted LED backlights are common in thin displays today, but this results in uneven surface illumination and low contrast. A lot of manufacturers are equipping their top models with direct LED backlights to put things right. This is a back panel comprised of white LEDs that illuminates the LCD-TFT panel directly from behind. As individual LEDs can be switched off, parts of the screen appear darker and the contrast values are better than with edge-mounted LEDs. Sony goes a step further— its 55-inch Crystal LED panel, which is ready to go into production, does not have any kind of backlight or LCD technology at all. Each pixel consists of three micro-diodes in red, green and blue—up to 62,20,800 actual LEDs in an array for full HD resolution (rather than today’s LEDs which are used for backlighting only). Sony says the panel has 3.5 times better contrast, a 40 percent wider colour palette, super-fast response times and wider viewing angles.
TFT displays - the position of the controllable liquid crystals and the backlight limits how evenly lit an image can be. Instead, by using LEDs behind the TFT some areas of the backlight layer can be dimmed or switched off to increase contrast in an image
OLED TVs are energy-efficient and high in contrast thanks to the use of organic light-emitting diodes. They do not need a backlight as the pixels themselves emit light. Samsung and LG have already exhibited 55-inch prototypes but have a few hurdles to overcome, namely distorted colour reproduction and low life expectancy. While the Samsung ES9500 uses three colour OLEDs arranged side by side for each pixel, LG’s 55EM96OV works with white light and RGB colour filters. Three OLEDs are positioned behind every colour sub-pixel, which together generate white light. A fourth white LED provides more brightness. Without a backlight, the TVs are extremely slim. The Samsung model is hardly 8 mm thick and LG has managed to bring it down to 4 mm.
Behind every colour filter are three-layered red, green and blue OLEDs. These together produce white light, the brightness of which is controlled by the luminosity of the OLEDs. A white sub-pixel in each pixel provides additional brightness
Displays you can look right through
Large transparent displays are still in the concept stage. Only Samsung has started manufacturing its Smart Window LTI460AP01, which is almost as transparent as glass when not switched on. Such screens don't need a frame, but only a casing on the edges to hold electronics and loudspeakers. An image in full HD resolution appears when the device is switched on. The screen can be made transparent by combining conventional LCD technology with the new TOLED technology (Transparent OLED). Samsung’s smart TV can be used as a display for videos, apps and widgets. The resolution of the 46-inch panel is 1680 x 1050 pixels, and it has a contrast ratio of 500:1. Applications can be operated via remote control. The surrounding ambient light serves as the light source; edge-mounted LEDs are activated only if required, which means the device consumes very little power. A cool feature is that smart windows can be darkened with an app called Jalousie (blinds). Just pull a virtual cord and the blades of the virtual blinds close, making the glass panel opaque.
Minority Report says hello: The Smart Window from Samsung is an interesting mix of a transparent touch panel and a TFT screen. The image contents appear to float almost as if in free space, as you can see in the live product demonstration
Tags: Display Technology , Bendable Displays , Mobile Displays , e-Ink Display , OLED Display , Transparent OLED , TOLED , LCD , LED TVs , OLED TVs , LCD-TFT , LG 55EM96OV , HD PicoP Gen2 , Foldable Displays
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