Showing posts from May, 2017

Pixels, pixels, pixels …

By Achin Bhowmik
“How many pixels are really needed for immersive visual experiences with a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD)?” This is one of the most popular questions that I got during and after the short course I taught at this year’s Display Week.
So I thought I would reflect over this a bit, and point to some recent developments and trends in the display industry as gleaned from the presentations and demonstrations at this year’s event. First, let’s consider some basic, back-of-an-envelope, math and calculations. Here are some facts related to the human visual system. An ideal human eye has an angular resolution of about 1/60th of a degree at the central vision. Each eye has a horizontal field-of-view (FOV) of ~160° and a vertical FOV of ~175°. The two eyes work together for stereoscopic depth perception over ~120° wide and ~135° high FOV.
Since the current manufacturing processes for both the liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) and organic light-emitting diode display…

HDR is Highly Dynamic

By Tom Fiske

Judging from the papers presented at Display Week this year, no one technology or company has a lock on high dynamic range (HDR) displays, the HDR ecosystem, or even on how to describe HDR performance.  The main technology contenders are OLED displays, dual-modulation LCDs, and dual-modulated projection light-valve systems. The ecosystem includes Dolby Vision and ACES encoding and delivery schemes, among others. The measurement protocols and standards for HDR are still in development.
OLED displays are still fairly new (and therefore expensive), but deliver a superb HDR experience. The black levels are amazing and almost unmeasurably low. The peak luminance can be up to several hundred cd/m2, but is limited by average picture level (APL). The dual-modulation techniques for LCDs require a directly illuminated local dimming backlight to achieve enough backlight “resolution” for good HDR performance. Depending on implementation, halo artifacts can be a problem. A second LCD …

I-Zone: Innovation in Light and Sound

By Ken Werner
The Innovation Zone (I-Zone) at SID Display Week 2017 in Los Angeles had approximately 50 exhibitors, more than double the average of years past.  Among the genuine innovations on display at the I-Zone was the high-resolution automobile headlamp 30,000-pixel LCD shutter shown by the University of Stuttgart and automotive lighting company Hella. The light pattern of the headlamp can be controlled with great flexibility, and can be integrated with the car's GPS and situational awareness systems.
Another genuine innovation was presented by the gaming headphone maker Turtle Bay. Its Hypersound transparent, flat-panel loudspeakers (see photo) work on a different principle than the old NXT speakers, whose technology has been adapted by LG and Sony in their current high-end OLED TVs. 

Turtle Bay's speakers are capacitive, and the vibrating layer is driven at 100kHz and at 100kHz, plus the audible side-band signal. The result, as explained by Turtle Bay's rep, is that t…

All the “Realities"

By Achin Bhowmik
“What is real?” asks Morpheus in the much-acclaimed 1999 movie, The Matrix.
Then he rhetorically repeats, “How do you define 'real'?”
Morpheus goes on to answer his own question. “If you're talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
Well… this is a profound definition of reality. One that engineers would readily like! If we can understand the electrical signals that zip around the neurons in the cerebral cortex of our brain as we sense and perceive the world, then we may be able to artificially stimulate the neurons in someone’s brain with similar signals. This would create the illusion of seeing something, or being somewhere, that is completely different from the “actual” reality.
That, precisely, is the goal that virtual reality engineers around the world are striving to achieve. But, wait… is it “virtual” reality or “augmented” reality? H…

Keynotes Inspire With Display Technology, Virtual Reality, and Autonomous Autos

By Tom Fiske The SID Symposium and Exhibition part of Display Week opened this morning with a strong set of keynote presentations. Paul Peng, Chairman and CEO of AU Optronics Corp., started off the keynote session with AUO’s view of past, present, and future display technology directions. He used Chinese history as an analog of the progression of the display industry, with periodic new “kingdoms” forming and merging, dominating, breaking up, and re-aligning. His focus, understandably, was TFT LCD technology, since this represents the majority of AUO’s portfolio. He gave an overview of AUO’s TV and automotive applications and the advantages, from a “green” perspective, of the TFT LCD manufacturing process over that of OLED displays. In fact, he seemed a bit dismissive of OLED technology in general, consigning it to the “niche” applications of mobile, wearable, and eyepiece displays.

The second keynote was given by Clay Bavor, VP of Virtual Reality at Google. His presentation was polish…

Taica Demonstrates Egg-Friendly Technology

By Jenny Donelan
One of the simplest, cleverest, and most appealing demos at Display Week 2017 can be found at Taica North America Corp.’s booth (539), where company representatives may be seen dropping a raw egg from a height of about 6 feet onto a shock-absorbing pad. The egg does not break or even crack, but lands unharmed on the company’s special silicon-based Alpha-GEL material with an oddly satisfying, suction-like “thud.”

Taica Senior Vice President Yasuhiro Kanai obligingly repeated the egg drop demo several times for the photo above. The egg was not only not hard-boiled but fresh -- "I bought it yesterday," he said.
Taica makes optical-bonding films and other products based on the Alpha-GEL technology for anti-vibration, shock-absorbing, and thermal interface applications. The egg demo makes a convincing argument for the shock absorption. The company also says the material is durable and can be used over a temperature range of -40C to +200C.

How About a 40-Megapixel Smartphone?

By Stephen P. Atwood
In today’s second keynote, “Enabling Rich and Immersive Experiences in Virtual and Augmented Reality,” Google’s Clay Bavor discussed several aspects of his company’s strategy to develop immersive VR/AR applications and enabling hardware. Google has rather firmly focused its efforts on an architecture that utilizes commercially available smartphones. Though Bavor mentioned dedicated VR headset development and showed one image of a notional device, overall the company is about making smartphones work for VR applications.

There are challenges, including latency and resolution. Latency creates a discontinuous experience during head movement, and resolution limitations create effects similar to having poor vision in real life. Both of these challenges can be addressed, as Bavor explained, but what really got my attention was his announcement that with an un-named partner, Google has developed a smartphone display that has 20 megapixel resolution per eye! That’s presu…

Distinguishing a Cat from a Dog and Other AI Challenges

By Gary Feather
Achin Bhowmik from Intel made a Monday seminar presentation outlining the amazing potential of AI for many applications. These include image recognition, speech, email, fraud, drug toxicology, relationships, moods, reactions, and games.
His focus on image recognition in particular was very insightful. Image identification, such as finding a cat through mathematical sequences and screeners, is not practical when the entire world of images is considered.  Although today (and only very recently) image recognition accuracies have surpassed human levels, these are for expected scenes in expected environments. Computed solutions must become more "intuitive.”  The objective is a high percentage of detection with a low probability of false identification. 
AI is inspired by biology. The process mimics human learning from infants to adults. Through a process of weighing and error and gradients coupled with forward and backward propagation, "learning" can occur a…

Display Technology Should Borrow a Page from the Semiconductor Industry

By Stephen Sechrist
In his Display Week Business Track talk focusing on the tools that make displays, Dr. Brian Shih, Corporate VP and GM at Applied Materials, borrowed a famous line from the semiconductor industry -- “You cannot fix what you cannot see” -- to show just how semi technology kept pace with Moore’s Law, and what specific processes and tools display makers can leverage to improve imaging going forward.

Just for the record, Dr. Mary Lou Jepson began preaching this link of semiconductor and display manufacturing almost a decade ago, first with the One Laptop for Children (OLPC) initiative and later with a company she founded on this premise, Pixel Qi (but I digress.)  
Dr. Shih asserts that, as with semiconductors, in order to move to the next level in display technology, we need to develop the display manufacturing tools to keep up with the increasing complexity of technology integration (think on-cell and in-cell touch vs. a touch layer added after the display is manufa…

SID & ICDM Bring Display Metrology Training Course to Display Week

By Tom Fiske

For the first time, SID and ICDM organized an Introductory Display Metrology Training Course as part of the educational offerings for Display Week 2017 in Los Angeles. The course, organized by ICDM Chair Joe Miseli, featured a high-quality slate of speakers and a handful of hands-on demos of some representative types of Light Measurement Devices (LMDs).
The introductory level was one of the keys for the first couple of presentations. Ed Kelley of Keltek LLC, in his usual engaging style, covered basic radiometry, photometry, and colorimetry. This is extremely useful information because it is the foundation for developng any light-based measurement on devices that make light for human consumption. The notes are a handy compilation of definitions and formulae that I’m sure will serve as an essential future reference for attendees. Michael Becker from Instrument Systems gave a very good talk on the basic framework for display metrology. Addressing questions like: What should…

The Most Valuable Part of Display Week

By Tom Fiske

Display Week is about more than the biggest display, the highest contrast, or even the best technical paper. One of the most valuable parts of the week are the relationships - the new ones and the re-newed ones. And the opportunities to be involved, at many levels, in one of the most exciting technology fields around.
I’ve been attending the SID conference since the early '90s. I’ve been around long enough to legitimately reminisce about the good old days (yeah - I’m one of those guys). When I joined SID, the CRT was king (but nervously looking over its shoulder at ambitious usurpers), active addressing for STN LCDs was going to preserve their relevance against the rising tide of a-Si AMLCD technology, and belt-worn pagers with reflective TN displays were one of the most popular mobile communication choices of the masses - if you even needed that sort of thing.
The conference, then popularly known simply as SID, now re-branded as Display Week (, has d…

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