Insight Media had a chance to talk to Greg Truman, CEO at Forth Dimension Displays Ltd. (ForthDD; Dalgety Bay, Scotland; www.forthdd.com) about the company in general and the company’s new WXGA imager in particular. This imager will be first shown publicly at Laser 2009 - World of Photonics show in Munich, Germany between the 15th and 18th of June 2009.
Insight Media Analyst
This new WXGA (1280 x 768) imager is more than just a new version of their SXGA device (1280 x 1024) with a reduced number of rows, according to Truman. It also has a higher fill factor (~97% vs ~93% for the SXGA device) and reflectivity so it will produce a brighter image. The backplane of the WXGA device will also support about 2x the clock rate of the older SXGA backplane. This higher clock rate allows ForthDD’s customers to more easily optimize the tradeoff between bit depth, dithering and field rate for a particular application.
Truman said that ForthDD’s customers buy primarily board-based systems that include both a microdisplay and the drive board. This simplifies integration for the customers and generally provides better image quality and flexibility than purchasing a microdisplay and ASIC to be used in a customer-designed drive board.
ForthDD’s F-LCoS microdisplays are most commonly used in high-end head mounted displays. Military training applications have been the main market for ForthDD in the past and they continue to be a key market for the company. Creation of virtual environments for non-military applications is another growing market, Truman said.
The medical market is another important and growing market. One medical application is the insertion of an image into the viewing field of a high-end medical/surgical microscope. This can be done either to replace the optical image or overlay data on the image. One use of this, Truman mentioned, would be to show a neurosurgeon additional information overlaid on the optical image while he is operating on a patient. Truman said that 4 of the 5 microscope manufacturers serving this market are currently either offering this product with ForthDD displays or in the process of designing a system. Other medical applications include a wide variety of viewing systems such as endoscopes.
The third display-related market important to ForthDD are film and television applications. These applications include, for example, high-end electronic viewfinders (EVFs) for digital cinema cameras. Currently there are no ForthDD EVFs on electronic cinema cameras, but Truman hopes to supplant the lower-resolution EVFs that use microdisplays supplied by Displaytech.
ForthDD stopped work on the consumer RPTV market in 2007, certainly a good decision in retrospect. When asked about other consumer markets, Truman said they had looked at them and said the only market that both needed the image quality of a ForthDD display and could afford it in reasonable volume would be a prosumer HMD for gaming. No current work at the company is currently aimed at this market, however.
An expanded version of this article will be published in the May issue of Mobile Display Report. This article will include a discussion of technology roadmaps at ForthDD and non-display applications of the ForthDD microdisplays.