Lots and Lots of LEDs

Well, we got the CES report done this week, but then had to get straight on to a visit to the BETT education show in London. The show was lively. Initially, I thought that several companies were missing from those I expected to see, but it turned out simply that the App was not very good! For example, Samsung was only listed as ‘Samsung network printing’. In the end, I saw those companies that I thought I would, but it meant a lot of searching around the show floor. There was plenty of news about large touch displays, in particular, and we’ll have our full report next week.

As regular readers will know, I love numbers for markets and technologies. Although they aren’t everything, they are often illuminating and can tell you something that is useful, or at least interesting.

Last week I saw a figure for the number of LEDs made globally in 2016 that was particularly illuminating (pun intended). It was 303 billion. That’s not far off one every week for every person in the world! Given that LEDs are a sophisticated technology product, the number surprised me. Sometimes, when I give a talk about the display industry, I tell the audience that there are companies that they have never heard of that make mobile phone displays at the rate of close to a million a day. Now, if you make a million a day of anything, that’s a lot, I thought, but the LED business is making close to a billion per day. That really is a lot!

It’s going to be a lot more in the future as the world switches to LED lighting and the number of large small pitch LED displays that is made continues to grow. Over recent years, the number of monolithic, i.e. ‘not sold as tiled’ displays in the market has been increasing and we expect to see a lot more at ISE in a couple of weeks. Given that every LED display with Ultrahd resolution has 24 million devices, if that market were to really develop, every 40 of those displays sold would mean another billion LEDs. A mere 40,000 UltraHD LED TVs would mean a trillion LEDs!

If the whole of the TV world shifted to UltraHD LEDs, we’d be counting in quadrillions, with trillions of LEDs made per day. I wonder what the limiting factor in terms of resources would be in trying to achieve that?

Anyway, I heard at BETT that Sony will be showing its Cledis microLED display “in a new way” at ISE. I’ve had the opportunity to see it four times now, and it never fails to impress, so if you are heading to ISE, make sure that you take the chance to check how it looks. I’d also be interested to hear if you have anything that can start to compete with the technology. Mail [email protected].