Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sensor Integration Drives Mobile Display Evolution

Whereas large, high-definition displays usually get people's attention, there is a diminutive class of displays that virtually everyone takes for granted. Mobile phones have interactive displays that a vast majority of SID show attendees use daily, without giving them a second thought. The quality of mobile displays today rivals that of TVs and in many parameters exceeds them. Some key trends in mobile displays were highlighted in the SID Symposium keynotes as well as in the introductory talk for the Market Focus Conference on Touch. 

Hiroyuki Oshima of Japan Display Inc. (JDI) gave the conference keynote on mobile displays, highlighting JDI’s strategy to concentrate on core technologies. One of these is an in-cell touch-based user interface. Other core technologies from JDI include LTPS and IPS, which support the touch functionality that will take on new capabilities. JDI sees the future growth for display business in new applications as the mobile phone market saturates.

A mobile display from JDI (photos by Jyrki Kimmel). 

Calvin Hsieh from IHS gave the lead presentation in the Market Conference on Touch. In the IHS forecast, in-cell touch for AMLCD and on-cell touch for AMOLED play a large role, shown in projected growth for these technologies. For touch in general as well, new applications drive the growth of the business.

What new applications are there for mobile displays and for touch technologies? A lot of these rely on sensors that are being integrated into the module itself. These sensors give the mobile display capability for multimodal user interaction, from fingerprint and proximity sensing to hover touch. These interaction modalities can then be leveraged over a wide range of application areas, even in automotive use.

Another trend is the proliferation of organic form factors in small and mobile displays. Sharp comes into this area from another direction, taking the form language from its automotive curve-edged displays and transforming mobile-sized displays from rectangular to round and oval-shaped objects. 

Sharp has been specializing in "non-traditional" display shapes.

These new form factors, combined with curved display integration, led by Samsung, open a way for totally new device classes, beyond the mobile phone and rectangular, passive information screens in cars.

Samsung is also experimenting with some interesting form factors. 

From the presentations in the conferences and modules shown in the exhibition booths, it seems that the predicted curved and flexible displays are still as far in the future as roadmaps depicted a few years ago. Prototypes of “rollable” screens are becoming ubiquitous but real products are still beyond the horizon. Until we get there, there will be many advancements in “classic” mobile display technologies that in turn can propagate to other application areas, making developments in mobile displays the vanguard of evolution in display technology. Sensor and system integration as well as touch user interface evolution will play a major role as constituent technologies in this development. –Jyrki Kimmel for Information Display

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