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Top 10 Trends in Displays

Sri Peruvemba, CEO of Marketer International and Head of Marketing for the Society for Information Display, outlines some of the key trends in displays.

Sri Peruvemba, CEO of Marketer International and Head of Marketing for the Society for Information Display
Sri Peruvemba, CEO of Marketer International and Head of Marketing for the Society for Information Display

The global display industry continues to grow, with new technologies enabling a host of emerging products and applications. To help you keep track of what’s happening, here’s a list of the top 10 trends in display technology.

1. Wearables

The most high-profile entry to the burgeoning wearable market, smart watches will continue to be a hot topic, as more and more companies release their own versions. Wearables also include fitness bands and, yes, smart glass – wearable displays for virtual and augmented reality (VR, AR). All of these applications have to convey large amounts of information on small displays that must deliver high brightness and resolution with very low power consumption. For this reason, thinner, lighter organic LED (OLED) and ePaper displays with better colour performance are gaining market share. Flexible OLEDs in particular have a bright future in this category.

2. Curved Screens

Another area of heightened public interest, curved screens have three primary applications: TVs – with more of the screen directed toward the focal point, where the viewer tends to sit, curved screens create a better viewing experience; smartphones – curved screens make the phone more aesthetically pleasing and create new opportunities for viewing information on the curved edge or side of the screen; and car dashboards – curved displays inserted into car dashboards will greatly improve driver usability.

3. Quantum Dots

Market research fim IDTechEx expects Quantum dot-enhanced LCD panels to account for 14% of the TV market by 2020. Quantum dots (QDs) are light-emitting semiconductor nanocrystals that create intense red, green and blue colours. The dots can support large LCDs, making them good candidates for TVscreens and other applications. Backlit QD-LCDs are garnering interest and investment because they greatly improve image quality while costing less than OLED, as the LCD fabs are already in place, many of them fully depreciated.

4. More Pixels/Enhanced Readability

Large-screen TVs with UHD/4K technology are starting to hit the market in greater numbers to meet demand for a range of price points. In addition, there is beginning to be a push for video of the same high quality to be viewable on tablets, wearables and other smaller screens. This will require smaller displays that can accommodate very high-quality content, creating opportunities for companies that can find ways to cram in more pixels per unit of real estate.

5. Better Image Quality

Not everyone thinks more pixels are the only way to enhance the user experience. Pixelworks offers chipsets and algorithms designed to optimise the quality of any display. The technology is predicated on the fact that, due to increased pixel density, the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels. This makes images more lifelike than ever.

6. Immersive Virtual Reality

Why can’t computing feel completely natural? Rather than taking away from the human experience, immersive VR blends the digital and real world. Oculus (now part of Facebook) has been working on immersive VR, most famously for its Oculus Rift product that creates a stereoscopic 3D view and factors real-life head and eye movement into how users interact with the technology.

7. Foldable/Rollable Displays

We’ve already begun to see clothing with embedded displays come to market, and the eventual goal is to enable users to fold down or roll up virtually any mobile device and put it into a pocket. This creates a huge opportunity for flexible OLEDs. Samsung and LG Display are creating flxible OLEDs that are literally changing the shape and capabilities of their latest smartphone offerings. Companies like E Ink and Polyera are constructing flexible ePaper displays that are aimed at wearable devices.

8. Secondary Displays

Secondary Displays
Secondary Displays

An emerging trend is to have an always-on secondary display on the back of a mobile phone. Based on low-power display technologies, these enable the user to access information on the phone’s existing footprint without draining the battery. Examples include YotaPhone, an Android phone with full-touch capacitive screens on the front (AMOLED) and back; popSLATE, an iPhone 6 cover that converts the back of a phone into a shatterproof e-paper screen; and the Tegware Bagel, an iPhone 6 case with an integrated e-writer that can be used to jot down notes and sketches.

9. Displays for Writing

While many of us run our lives with a smartphone, we still turn to pen and paper for taking notes or doodling. Studies show that we retain information better when we use the connection from brain to hand to write something down, rather than simply entering or scanning it into our phones. Displays for writing are thus making a comeback. Many tablets have a pen input feature and new options are being developed for smartphones, like the fore-mentioned Tegware Bagel. Samsung’s Galaxy Note incorporates pen writing and Kent Displays manufactures the Boogie Board line of e-writers.

10. Haptic Displays

Haptic technology is tactile-feedback technology that recreates the sense of touch by applying force, vibration or motion to the user. It enhances the keyboard typing experience on a display and creates a more immersive experience in gaming applications etc..

What’s exciting about many of these trends is not just how they’ll be used, but how they work – it’s the ingredients that make these emerging technologies viable and marketable.

2018