Reflections on Display Week 2024

FlexEnable's senior team members discuss their experiences at Display Week 2024.

Desi Aleksandrova, Marketing Communications Manager

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FlexEnable has a history of exhibiting at Display Week, widely regarded as the leading conference and tradeshow for display technologies. This year, we had a booth on the show floor where we welcomed visitors to experience our technology first hand.

In addition, members of our senior team gave presentations – Paul Cain, Strategy Director, delivered an invited talk on biaxially curved displays for automotive, and Erin McDowell, CRO, participated in the Women in Tech forum. Paul also spoke on dimming technologies for AR glasses at the SID/DSCC Business Conference.

Following a busy week, we met with Paul and Erin to learn more about their experience and to share some insights.

What were some of the new technologies or trends that stood out at Display Week this year? How do you see these impacting the future of the display industry?

Erin McDowell: I was encouraged to see that an increasing number of display companies are making the AR and VR displays required to make devices more impressive and more affordable.

In AR and VR, the image from the display is magnified by optics between the display and the eye to fill up to the user’s field of view (FOV). Human vision is about 60 pixels per degree in the fovea, +/- 15 degrees. A 4K display can provide near-human vision resolution. Before AR/VR there wasn’t much demand for these very high resolution micro displays. The investment and development by the display industry is indicative of a growing supply chain and increasing interest in the space.

As an example: The Apple Vision Pro is known for producing very realistic images – It uses two Sony $500 microOLED displays. These have been the largest contributor to the cost of the $3500 AVP headset. With more display companies developing micro displays, we can expect lower cost and higher resolution devices becoming the mainstay.

At Display Week, BOE was prominently showing their 1.35” microOLED for AR. Samsung purchased eMagin display company last year and were showing their 4k displays. JadeBird (JBD), Q-Pixel were also showing their displays and there were likely others.

Paul Cain: A display exhibition is all about what catches your eye. I was really impressed by some of the developments on glassless 3D TVs (that’s not TVs without glass – a common topic for us! – but 3D TVs that don’t require special glasses). These “naked eye” 3D displays have eye tracking incorporated that give a very natural adjustment of the image perspective as your head moves around – it really felt like the image had jumped in front of the screen. Perhaps the standout demo of this was BOE’s 32” monitor.

There was also a wide range of new microLED display developments, with all nearly all display makers showing demos from large displays (163” shown by CSOT) to monolithic microLEDs just a fraction of an inch across.

Did you attend any talks or presentations that offered unique perspectives on the future of displays? If so, can you share some key takeaways?

Paul: Analysts at the DSCC business conference presented a strong outlook for microLEDs even if timescales for mass market adoption are slightly longer than earlier forecasts.
One area that the conference increasingly covers is AR/VR – not only the display technologies but also the adjacent technologies needed to convey and control the display image before it reaches the eye – including active and passive optics and eye tracking. For example, Liqxtal (Himax) in conjunction with Innolux presented their latest developments on glass-based ambient dimming for AR. Its now widely agreed that ambient dimming is a must-have for see-through AR headsets that can be used in a diverse range of environments (notably, indoor and outdoor use).

What products did you showcase, and what kind of feedback did you receive from visitors about them?

Erin: FlexEnable had a small booth, but it was busy. We showed ambient dimming for AR, tunable liquid crystal lenses for AR and VR, an automotive smart sunroof, a curved OLCD display, and switchable ePrivacy for notebook devices.

This wide variety demonstrates that we have a unique and viable technology platform for both OTFT and active liquid crystal devices and provides prospects with a clear view of what we can make for them.

There was strong interest in all of the demos – we spoke with individuals from the largest consumer electronics companies, people involved in glazing for automotive, and numerous other individuals interested in our capabilities.

In particular, we had many compliments on the tunable LC lens demo; people liked the performance of the lens, but several also commented on the very excellent demo setup!

Were there any features or functionalities of FlexEnable’s products that generated a lot of interest?

Paul: For a while we have known that ambient dimming is a must-have for see-through AR devices used in a diverse range of environments (notably, indoor and outdoor use), either globally, or ultimately locally – dimming the real-world only behind the virtual object (providing occlusion).

We showed several ambient dimming platforms at the booth, covering different dynamic ranges suited to different architectures. I would say that these got the most attention, because they allow higher contrast and effectively the ability to create black images. These functions will be increasingly added to future devices, but they must be ultra-thin and light in order to achieve the comfort and support the all-day wearability that glasses-like form factors provide.

In your opinion, what are the requirements for AR/VR display technology in the coming years? How can these advancements increase market adoption?

Erin: There have been numerous challenges in making AR/VR displays that are able to effectively deceive the brain and eye into believing virtual images are part of the ‘real world’. In addition to higher resolutions and smaller sizes, displays would be best designed (for VR) to be biaxially curved, to have higher resolution at the center than the edges, to be round, and to have light emitting at a smaller cone angle and varying cone angles across the display. As this industry continues to evolve and create better and more affordable displays, the AR/VR market will see broader adoption.

Paul and Erin will be attending AWE USA 2024 – We are exhibiting at Booth S19, drop by and say hello! If you’d like to schedule a meeting, contact us at info@flexenable.com