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Display Technology News Roundup 9.30.2014

Image via Flickr / That Hartford Guy

This 1980s General Motors Touchscreen Was Decades Ahead Of Its Time "For most drivers, the idea of a touchscreen that controls all of a car's functions is sci-fi that only recently became reality. However, in 1989 General Motors equipped its Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo with a touchscreen system that was decades ahead of its time. Called the Visual Information Center (VIC), the touchscreen gave the driver access to everything from the radio to engine management data. (Video)" via Business Insider

How to build a real-time holographic display using doped liquid crystals "There are two common types of 3D display based on the principles of stereopsis (perception of depth). One exploits binocular parallax (the displacement in the apparent position of an object viewed along two lines of site), and the other makes use of light-field reconstruction. However, the ultimate goal is holographic display, which provides the most realistic 3D images of objects or scenes. This is because it can reconstruct both intensity and phase information, enabling the perception of light as it would actually be scattered by a real object, without the observer needing special eyewear. ...However, to show real-time, dynamic 3D images, there is a limited choice of suitable photorefractive materials with the necessary fast response and high modulation index to achieve a reasonable diffraction efficiency. This presents challenges in the choice of materials, devices, and system structures. Here we present a real-time holographic display featuring a liquid crystal (LC) doped with an azo (synthetic) dye. This material enables a video-rate display, since we can refresh each hologram on the order of several milliseconds." via SPIE

How are color-changing displays inspired by squids advancing LCD tech? "Scientists have long marveled at the squid's ability to sense the color of its surroundings, and then instantaneously change its own skin coloring in order to blend in. To that end, a number of projects have attempted to create man-made materials that are similarly able to change color on demand. One of the latest studies, being led by associate professor Stephan Link at Rice University, may ultimately result in improved LCD displays. The technology developed by the team currently consists of a prototype full-color display, which incorporates five-micron-square pixels made up of arrays of tiny aluminum nanorods to produce vivid red, green and blue-based colors. By electronically tuning both the length of the nanorods and the spacing between them, it's possible to alter the manner in which they reflect light – this in turn changes each pixel's perceived color." via Gizmag

Is the iPhone 6 Plus Display the Best Ever? "In its latest series of lab tests and measurements, DisplayMate called the iPhone 6 Plus the "best performing smartphone LCD display that we have ever tested." Specifically, the new 5.5-inch iPhone reached or broke records in a variety of areas, including highest peak brightness, lowest screen reflectance, highest contrast ratio, highest contrast rating in ambient light, most accurate intensity scale and gamma and most accurate image contrast. ...President Raymond Soneira wrote of the iPhone 6 Plus. "The iPhone 6 Plus is only the second Smartphone display (LCD or OLED) to ever get all Green (Very Good to Excellent) Ratings in all test and measurement categories (except for Brightness variation with Viewing Angle, which is the case for all LCDs) since we started the Display Technology Shoot-Out article series in 2006, an impressive achievement for a display. The iPhone 6 Plus has raised the bar for top LCD display performance up by a notch."" via CNET

Everything you ever wanted to know about display screen technology "On a glossier screen, less diffusion takes place, so the image appears sharper. Glossy displays may also be coated with an anti-glare finish to reduce distracting reflections; this means dark areas aren’t illuminated by ambient light as much as they would be with a matte screen, so the contrast of the screen appears to be greater. Choosing a screen type is a matter of personal choice as much as it is influenced by your environment and/or lighting conditions. As a rule of thumb, a matte screen makes sense for regular office work, or for a laptop that you intend to use while out and about; for games and movies, the vibrant colour and punchy contrast of a glossy screen may be more important – especially if the room lights will be darker." via PC & Tech Authority

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Blue phosporescent OLED lifetime increased by 10X "In a step that could lead to longer battery life in smartphones and lower power consumption for large-screen televisions, researchers at the University of Michigan have extended the lifetime of blue organic light emitting diodes by a factor of 10. Blue OLEDs are one of a trio of colors used in OLED displays such as smartphone screens and high-end TVs. The improvement means that the efficiencies of blue OLEDs in these devices could jump from about 5 percent to 20 percent or better in the near future. ...In collaboration with researchers at Universal Display Corp. in 2008, Forrest's group proposed an explanation for why blue PHOLEDs' lives are short. The team showed that the high energies required to produce blue light are more damaging when the brightness is increased to levels needed for displays or lighting. This is because a concentration of energy on one molecule can combine with that on a neighbor, and the total energy is enough to break up one of the molecules. It's less of a problem in green- and red-emitting PHOLEDs because it takes lower energies to make these colors of light." via University of Michigan

Is the display industry headed for a boom? "Foreign institutional investment analysts yesterday expressed an upbeat outlook on the global display panel sector, expecting the arrival of a rare boom unseen in recent years in the latter half of this year. According to James Kim, an analyst at Nomura Securities, expected windfall for the sector in the latter half of this year is attributed to expected constraints in production capacity that may persist for the next few years, and anticipated surge in demand for larger-sized LCD TV sets. Kim noted that it is difficult for larger-sized LCD display panel makers to initiate production capacity expansion currently amid an ongoing transition towards producing OLED panels. In addition, numerous panel makers have sustained tremendous losses since 2010, following a period of oversupply in the global markets, leaving them with little room to increase capital expenditure." via The China Post

Sharp aims to mass-produce new generation of display panels by 2017 "Qualcomm and Sharp said the new type of panel, called MEMS-IGZO after their respective display technologies, uses less energy and can withstand harsher temperatures than the liquid crystal displays (LCD) used in most smartphones and tablets. "LCD is really hitting its limits in a lot of things. We can go brighter and this is the first generation of this technology," said Greg Heinzinger, senior vice president of Qualcomm's technology licensing division and president of Pixtronix, at a briefing at Sharp's Tokyo office on Friday. ...Sharp said it will market the new technology to automakers, and makers of industrial devices, smartphones and tablets, and aims to start mass-production in 2017." via The Star

Are touchscreens going to be obsolete? "Although it’s too early to predict the end of an era for touch screens, it was interesting to hear Tetsuya Hayashi, one of the keynote speakers at Touch Taiwan, talking about development activities around post-touch screen technology in Japan. Hayashi, deputy director of Nikkei BP ICT Innovation Research Institute, illustrated the future of display technology as “ambient,” “free-form,” and “wearable.” Images, he foresaw, will be projected on any surface or in the air, instead of being constrained to a rigid, bulky box." via EE Times

Intel demonstrates a laptop with a second E Ink screen on the lid "The Asus Taichi line of notebooks feature screens on both sides of the lid — so when the lid is closed you find yourself holding a tablet. When it’s open, you have a laptop with a screen facing you and a second screen facing away. Now Intel is showing off a prototype of a laptop with a similar layout. There’s a screen on either side of the lid. The difference is the one that’s on top of the lid is a small, low power E Ink display. (Video)" via Liliputing

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Could Display Technologies Provide Camoflouge and Other Military Technologies? "Digital electronic display technologies, such as light emitting diode (LED), liquid crystal display (LCD), plasma, and digital projection, have advanced and proliferated rapidly in recent years. This has caused unit cost to decrease and quality and capability to increase. These technologies are no longer just for watching television or working on a computer. Massive LED screens are common on digital billboards, while nearly half of all Americans carry high resolution displays in their pockets in the form of smartphones. Displays are even beginning to break out of their traditional rectangular shape. LEDs can now be manufactured so that panels can be flexibly conformed to curved or irregular surfaces. Projection mapping techniques enable projectors to display images on three dimensional surfaces. All of these technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way the Navy operates for pennies on the dollar." via CIMSEC

How does an optical engine remove sharp pixels in displays? "Lemoptix has designed what it calls the world's smallest optical engine—25mm x 25mm x 12mm—and has worked to "despeckle" displays using proprietary technology. Without despeckling, a laser-driven display looks pixelised, with overly sharp pixels surrounded by obvious circles of black. Lemoptix has not revealed all the details of its despeckling algorithm, but it did reveal enough to win the Photonics West best paper award. In addition, Lemoptix has been to solve application problems to make its Hamamatsu modules easier for designers to use. For instance, it has built demonstration applications for heads-up displays on automobile windshields that work even in the brightest ambient light. It has also built 3D scanning solutions using structured light, embedded projectors for smartphones, and wearable displays for augmented-reality smart glasses." via EET India

TinyScreen thumb-sized display supports full color "Often the size of the screen controls how large your project is overall, and if you want small, TinyScreen is the ticket. TinyScreen is the size of your thumb and still supports full color. There are a myriad of uses for TinyScreen from homemade wearables to smart glasses to just about anything that can benefit from a small display. The screen uses OLED technology with 96 x 96 resolution, 16-bit color, and is designed to show data from the TinyDuino platform." via SlashGear

A 3D Display You Can Manipulate and Remotely Control "inForm is essentially a field of embedded pins that rise and fall independently to form shapes using information relayed by a computer. The creators of inForm describe it as a Dynamic Shape Display that can display real-time 3D information as well as receive input from users. Developed by MIT Media Lab‘s Tangible Media Group, it is able to display 3D information in real-time and in a more accurate and interactive manner compared to the flat rendering often created by computer user interface." via psfk

What's the difference between digital signage and touchscreen kiosks? "The most important difference between digital signage and touchscreen kiosks can be summed up in a single word: interaction. Enticing a visitor to interact with your message is a universal business goal. A touchscreen kiosk will provide you with all that digital signage can offer, but with an added layer of engagement. … Touchscreen devices are typically more expensive than equivalent-size digital signage monitors. In addition, the deployment of an interactive touchscreen kiosk requires a more in-depth design and development phase, so the software pricing can also be higher." via Digital Signage Today

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How Could Virtual Reality Displays Transform Education? Oculus VR Interview "We showed the folks from the Smithsonian, we showed folks from a number of different industries—the automobile industry, the architecture industry—we’ve shown people the latest prototype, and they’ve gotten incredibly excited about the visualization aspect. Imagine, you could scan in everything in the Smithsonian—they have 130 million objects. Let’s get 10 percent of them or 20 percent of them. You could put on a pair of … sunglasses, and with those sunglasses you could see those objects and you could look around and you could see it so well and so clearly, and it would track so perfectly that your brain would believe it was really right in front of you. The next step past that is when you have shared space, and not only do you believe that this object is right there in front of me, but I look around and I see other people just like we see each other now, and I really, truly believe that you’re right in front of me. We can look at each others’ eyes. If you look down at something, I can look down at the same time. And it’s every bit as good as this. And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom." via The Chronicle of Higher Education

The first functional graphene-based flexible display has been produced "Graphene has been called a “magical” material that may hold the key to better electronic gadgets, both when it comes to device durability but also electrical abilities, as various research teams are figuring new ways to put the astonishing material to good use. … Researchers from the Cambridge Graphene Center and Plastic Logic managed to build the first such product, a flexible display that could equip a variety of gadgets in the future. “The new prototype is an active matrix electrophoretic display, similar to the screens used in today’s e-readers, except it is made of flexible plastic instead of glass. In contrast to conventional displays, the pixel electronics, or backplane, of this display includes a solution-processed graphene electrode, which replaces the sputtered metal electrode layer within Plastic Logic’s conventional devices, bringing product and process benefits,” a University of Cambridge report says." (Video)” via BGR

How Does New Augmented Reality Industrial Display Hardhat Protect Workers? "The DAQRI Smart Helmet has a hands-free wearable HD display with fully transparent optics that provide always-on functionality readable in both low light and bright conditions. It is described as “an elegant fusion of the most sophisticated display and sensor hardware with next-generation computer vision.” ...The Smart Helmet’s ‘True 4D’ display will enable organizations to provide intuitive instructions to their workforce. This should ensure that workers understand processes more quickly, spend less time on each step, and make fewer errors. (Video)" via psfk

The Story of Pixel Density and Touch Interface "It’s clear that the reason Apple chose precise scaling factor has been driven by the intention to produce crisp design with no compromise on antialiased UI elements rendering. It is often seen when you have a lot of 1pt stroke line in your design. Apple thinks for the developers and for the consumers too. From its original iPhone inception, Apple has been adamantly guarding how its User Interface will be rendered on user devices. The original iPhone to its iPhone 4S had exactly the same effective resolution of 320pt by 480pt. We praised Apple’s UI workmanship and its call on attention to detail. There is an interesting case of iPhone 6+ where Apple choose not to continue with the pixel-perfect scaling tradition. Read it here: The Curious Case of iPhone 6+ 1080p Display" via Medium

Should Touchscreens Be Built Into Every Desktop Design? "Like tablets before them, the ergonomics of these hybrid gizmos demand UI conventions that depart from desktop layouts of similar screen size. The hybrids not only need big touch targets to accommodate clumsy fingers, but they also need controls and navigation conveniently placed where hands naturally come to rest. Designing for touch introduces elements of industrial design: physical comfort and ease are critical considerations. Unfortunately, the top-of-screen navigation and menus of traditional desktop layouts are outright hostile to hybrid ergonomics. Tried-and-true desktop conventions have to change to make room for fingers and thumbs. For now at least, the solution is not just a matter of designing separate interfaces for touch and non-touch gadgets. That won’t fly, because as designers (and especially web designers) we often don’t have enough information about the device. After poking at this problem for a few weeks, my conclusion is: every desktop UI should be designed for touch now. When any desktop machine could have a touch interface, we have to proceed as if they all do. Walk with me." via Global Moxie

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