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OLED displays on the way

I remember the first time I saw a digital picture frame, an electronically driven screen that can be loaded with digital images and be made to cycle images over time. The early ones were bulky and didn't have much memory for images, more recent devices allow wireless delivery of the images but are battery hogs. I remember in the early days thinking it was an interesting technology but would really take off after one important event. Namely, the creation of a truly energy efficient display technology that provided a realistic image without the need for the backlighting of all the LCD driven units on the market.

That technology has been in the labs for quite some time and it is poised to be released on the masses , it is called OLED (Organic Light Emmitting Diode/Display). An OLED display combines the advantages of a CRT and an LCD, it has amazingly high dynamic range and a wide gamut (roughly the subtly of tones that can be rendered for each color channel) and is incredibly power efficient. It also adds something to the mix that Plasma, CRT's nor LCD's can do, an OLED display can be flexible. Take a look at this video and this video from youtube. As a sign that Sony is serious about bringing this technology to light last night at the Iron Man premiere here in NYC, one of the commercials was a rather interesting advertisement for the new OLED display that is going on sale this year.

OLED will allow the digital picture frame market to blossom by providing true "any angle" viewing thanks to its lack of the angle of view constraints of LCD's and the fact that the light comes from the pixels and not from a backlight. The energy efficiency will allow wireless devices to run for significantly longer periods of time as well. Beyond this, the resolution advantages and the ability to create transparent and flexible displays will really open up the display market. So any current method of displaying imagery will be made more efficient through the use of the coming OLED displays. Imagine having these displays all over your wall and tied to your home computer systems, any OLED embedded surface can then be used to view data, images what have you. As an undergrad EE student I remember reading an engineering trade journal that covered the then first optical digital video disk device (we know it today as DVD) the prototype was about as big as a washing machine, after reading that article I resigned not to buy another VCR (I had only purchased one up to that time around 1988) as I waited for DVD, which finally debuted almost 10 years later for the masses. The cost reduction over that time for the technology is going to hit OLED and thanks to the elegence of the technology will allow it to gain amazing ubiquity in a very short time. So I am putting a bet on a really explosive market in OLED driven display technologies.

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