SID’97 Conference Report

In all, about 6000 people attended SID’s 1997 International Symposium, Seminar and Exhibition in Boston during May 11-16, 1997. From what I saw myself and heard from other attendees, General Chair Hugo Steemers and Program Chair Bob Wisnieff should be very satisfied with the results of their efforts. (This report only represents my own opinion; please accept my apology if I did not see or properly appreciate your achievement -- T. J. Nelson, May 23, 1997.)

Impressive Prototypes

Canon gave a paper on what they call the Surface Conduction Electron Display (SED) and showed a 10-inch 240x240xRGB prototype at the author interviews. This technology seems to be very promising for slim large-area televisions and, if the resolution can be increased, for notebook computers with increased battery life. The cathode plate was made in air with screen printing and ink-jet printing processes, and the anode plate was constructed very much like a CRT screen with P22 phosphors. This suggests that the cost per unit for large-area SEDs could be substantially lower than for comparable plasma displays. Furthermore, the active element at each pixel on the cathode is small, so it may be easier to incorporate spacers than it is to process the barrier ribs in plasma displays. However, the spacers also have to stand off the 6 kV anode voltage. Finally, the cathode runs at only 15 volts, so the overall efficiency is much better than a plasma display even though only a small percentage of the cathode current is extracted.

Large-area flat-panel display prototypes were abundant. At the Poster Session, Sharp showed a record-size 40-inch SVGA AMLCD that they made by tiling two 29-inch panels. There was a stuck pixel at the top near the center, but otherwise the display looked good to me, although others said they could see the seam part of the time. Plasmaco showed two nice 42-inch color plasma displays with 4:3 aspect ratio at the front of their booth. These displays seemed much larger to me than a 16:9, 42-inch Panasonic plasma panel that was set back in the center of the booth. NEC also had a nice-looking 16:9, 42-inch plasma display in their booth. Finally, I was impressed by one point about the optics in the Brookhaven Planar-Optic Display. I hadn’t realized that you could focus through the planar-optic sheets instead of at the input surface as Bill Glenn did with his fiber-optic magnifier.

NEC, Seiko-Epson and Minolta showed reflective color LCD prototypes at the author interviews. NEC’s was the largest (24 cm) and had the most colors (4096). It used a guest-host, polymer-composite liquid crystal addressed with TFTs and improved internal reflectors. Minolta stacked red, green, and blue-reflecting polymer-stabilized cholesteric liquid-crystal films supported by separate pairs of thin polycarbonate substrates. The display was passively addressed and slow, but it achieved about 30% reflection. Seiko-Epson’s MIM-PDLC display was reflecting -- with scattering in the bright state and without scattering in the dark state. You had to tip it slightly away from the position at which you would see the specular reflection of the light source. It worked surprisingly well in the ballroom, which had a high ceiling with lamps that were small compared to the spacing between them.

Idemitsu showed a quarter-VGA organic EL display that achieved video speed without an active matrix and apparently without excessive temperature rise. In this approach, the active layer emits blue light and organic fluorescent materials are patterned on the face plate to convert the blue light to form red and green subpixels. The paper suggests that a good color gamut can be obtained, but the demo displayed only shades of blue and green that were hard to discriminate.

Promising Products

Large-area flat-panel displays are beginning to be available. Fujitsu did not have a booth itself, but a number of their 42-inch color plasma displays were to be found Exhibit hall. Also Sony is now selling their 25-inch plasma-addressed color LCD in Japan and had one in their booth.

Sharp had a sign in their booth that said “Flat Panel Technology - Next Stop Desktop.” One of the requirements for desktop monitors is enhanced viewing angle. Hitachi showed a 13.3-inch, in-plane switching mode TFT-LCD that they said is in mass production, and LG said they will begin to manufacture a 15.1-inch IPS TFT-LCD in September. Also Fujitsu showed a 10.4-inch vertically aligned TFT-LCD that has a wide viewing angle and fast response time in the author interviews. They said a 15-inch monitor would be in production by September using this technology.

Hitachi gave a paper on a 19-inch color display tube that has 0.22 mm horizontal pitch and showed it in their booth. It is designed to be less expensive and bulky than existing 48 to 51-cm tubes. The tube displays computer formats up to 1600x1280 (2M pixels) and is in production.

Seiko-Epson received an enthusiastic response to their late paper on a 650-lumen ouput LCD projector that is available in the US. It uses a 100 W lamp with 1.4 mm arc length and a clever polarization recovery system to illuminate three 1.3-inch poly-Si liquid-crystal light valves. They claim the projector has a luminous efficiency of 6.5 lumens/Watt and illuminance homogeneity of 85%.

Conference Statistics

According to SID’97 Treasurer Mark Goldfarb, the Symposium attendance was slightly over 1610, and more than 785 attended the Monday-Friday Seminars. These were records for an East-Coast site, but SID has attracted somewhat larger numbers in California. The Symposium comprised 244 papers including 20 invited talks and 71 posters. There were 87 papers from North America, 66 from Japan, 45 from Europe, 31 from Korea, 13 from other places in Asia, and 1 each from Russia and Israel. The Exhibits filled two large rooms in the lower level of the Hynes Convention Center, with 230 companies occupying a record number of 347 booths. The Applications Seminars also drew a record of about 530 people to practical lectures that started at 7:30 am and finished as the Symposium sessions began at 9:00 am.

(last updated June 30, 1997)

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