What Was Missing at SID?

It has been a “head down” week, catching up with routine things that had built up in the three weeks that I was away in the US at SID, AWE, the Display Summit and Infocomm, getting some more data done and writing up the Summit. I’m nearly done with that, but, unfortunately, I was not able to get my Infocomm show floor stories done by publication time, so we plan to release our detailed report early next week.

Events of the scale of Display Week or Infocomm are always a case of trying to “drink from the fire hose” – it’s information overload and afterwards, there’s always something that got missed in the flood. However, one of the things that I try to do when I get to the end of a trade show is to think about what I didn’t see. That’s a bit harder, but often instructive.

At SID, as I mentioned in an editorial a couple of weeks ago, I was really looking forward to seeing some more about microLED technology. I have been reasonably confident over recent months that I agree with Candice Brown-Elliott’s view that this is the display technology that might be the most disruptive to the current display industry. MicroLEDs are, basically, very, very scaled down versions of the regular LEDs that we know. As a result, they should be much more efficient than LCD or OLED, have high brightness, should have long lifetime, very good colour saturation and extremely good contrast as well as wide viewing angles and fast response times. What’s not to like?

Well, it’s tricky to make these devices, especially by the million and it’s hard to place them all on a substrate and make sure they are all connected. I would also expect that there will be issues of matching performance in brightness and colour, as there are in regular LEDs.

I’ve seen micro LEDs at SID before, and Chris interviewed Ostendo ( last year, but that company didn’t appear this year. InfiniLed of Ireland was also due at the Business and Investor’s conference was a #’no show’ and there were no other micro LED companies on the show floor this time, nor papers in the technical symposium. I suspect that it’s either that it’s the wrong show, or that the firms don’t want to reveal too much.

Often, companies come to these events to find backers and customers. Sometimes, it’s a ‘last gasp’ attempt. I remember, in 1997, that Philips brought its ‘Cathode Ray Panel’, a clever flat panel TV technology (with a terrible name. I’m not sure that I would want to buy a ‘CR*P’ TV!). However, this was because the research group were looking for new sponsors as Philips did not plan to exploit the approach, as it was already committed to other display technologies.

Since the Apple acquisition of Luxvue, though, we suspect that there hasn’t been too much difficulty finding companies that are interested in investing in the technology. So, perhaps they are not short of investors, so would rather stay quiet.

However, microLED was very visible in the stunning LED display shown by Sony at Infocomm. Chris covered this in his recent Display Daily and we’ll have a little more in our full Infocomm report next week.

So, it’s time to go looking for the right event to track this technology for you. If you have a suggestion, let me know at [email protected]