Transparent OLED Technology 101

TranparentOLEDOLED is a flat-panel display technology that’s been in development for decades. Organic Light Emitting Diode technology was first reduced to practice at Eastman Kodak in the early 1980s. The first commercial, limited production OLED displays were sold in 1997. Since then, these displays have found use in car stereos, MP3 players and cameras. But by far the largest market for OLEDs to date has been smartphones, where, under the radar, over half a billion have been sold.

In the past few years, a limited number of full-HD panels — 55 inches and larger — have become available. Duty cycle is limited and the risk of burn-in from static content is minimized.

The term “organic” doesn’t imply these displays are pesticide-free or made from naturally-grown products; rather it refers to the fact the semiconducting materials used to fabricate the light-emitting diodes are carbon-based. Each “pixel” of this transparent OLED display is made up of four segments. The largest is a clear segment, allowing for transparency. The others are color segments for red, green, and blue.

The benefits of the technology are in the areas of color gamut, viewing angles, contrast ratio, power usage (with typical video content), and thinness. As a core technology, OLEDs promise to be thinner than LCDs, have faster refresh rates, and can be produced on flexible plastic substrates for durability, weight, and clever mechanical designs.

The downsides are generally cost, commercial availability, and effective lifetime. As a data point, the cost for an LED-backlit LCD TV is one-quarter (or less) the price of an OLED version in the same diagonal size. And the overall lifetime of the display is shorter, as organic materials degrade over time.

Still, OLED is a promising technology. It’s not yet ready for mainstream display and videowall use in commercial environments, but we’re watching it closely and working on it in our labs. What are your thoughts on OLED displays on pro AV?


Jennifer Davis

About Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis is the Chief Marketing Officer for the international business of Leyard and also serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy at Planar Systems and Runco International. She is a high energy, articulate senior executive who uses entrepreneurial skills to build high performing businesses, product lines, and go-to-market strategies. Jennifer can be found @jenniferdavis on Twitter and on LinkedIn at www.linkedin/in/jenniferbdavis.

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