This week was the 2014 SID conference in fantastic San Diego. Display Week showcases all the new and emerging tech in displays. Featured exhibits like SHARP’s included a 104-inch ultra-wide, UHD TV. For most people, a larger wall would be required, budget notwithstanding. The new curved displays are in, and it’s interesting. We’ll see if they’ll catch on.
The big displays were not the reason Unshockable Engineering went down to SID. As much as it hurts to say this, the big guys in the field can’t build the products we’re looking for. What we wanted to find was the stuff to make a thin, flexible display like what’s been promised for the last ten years. Lots of companies are getting into touch displays, which are cool, but I’ve always been a bigger fan of voice. (Maybe that’s because as a Pacific-NW accented man, I have no problems having my voice recognized. Then again, people recognize it too.)
Regardless, the question is — does anybody make this thin-film display? Does anyone remember the demo car Toyota was having Fun with?
I hate to say it, but they don’t exist. Not yet. There are some problems moving this from the one-off into production. The first big problem is with market. The car’s Fun, I admit, but it’s not going to sell. The money for displays is in touch handhelds. Tablets, phones, music players. That or TVs. Big, wide, cheap, displays that sell in billions to consumers.
How easy is it to break your phone / tablet screen? Piece of cake; drop it from your pocket and it’s done. Nobody wants a car that will have to have thousand-dollar panels replaced when some idiot scrapes their car with a shopping cart.
Without the push to make them, the manufacturing tech lags behind. It’s the repeatability of production that’s limiting the size of flexible displays. Once they get past a certain size (does 10.1 inches sound familiar?) they just stop working well. You get little particles between the layers, you get poor light diffusion, and even the substrate stability starts factoring in. Now take your TV and put it out in the rain. Maybe it doesn’t rain where the Japanese auto companies are, because that would explain a lot about the Fun, the Mazda 5 I used to drive, and the Nissan Versa I’ve got now.
Nevertheless, that was why Unshockable Engineering went to San Diego. To find out what was out there. What was there was the building blocks, waiting to be assembled.