Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 34)

THE MOVING MESSAGE By Bob Klausmeier Digital-display consultant Bob Klausmeier brings 34 years of firsthand, professional experience to all digital-sign markets. You can reach him at Prognosticating on the Future of LED, LCD AND OLED technologies Each excels in appropriate venues, but keep an eye on OLEDs. Thiscolumn.72nd,12STyears, six Mesis my Moving sage For times per year, I have offered advice, presented concepts and shared information that I find interesting, with the hope that ST’s readers would share my appreciation of such knowledge. Interestingly, my role as ST columnist positions me to receive countless prognostications regarding sign-industry technologies. And, over time, I’ve received hundreds of “the next great thing” insights and tips from various engineers, entrepreneurs and visionaries. A classic example occurred in 2002, when a U.K.-based writer asked why I hadn’t covered organic, lightemitting diodes (OLEDs). With noticeable passion, he said OLED technology would eclipse LED applications within five years. During this era, many future-technology concepts were tossed around. For example, I’d heard about tiny reflective magnets and at least a half-dozen laser schemes that would be cheaper, lighter and brighter than LED lamps. With each new, future-tech, super-stardom proclamation, I would carry the concept to my trusted engineer friends and, in all cases but the OLEDs, I found dissent. Almost universally, my engineering compadres saw OLEDs as a future-viable, but presently premature, technology. Fast forward to today and ask where, compared to LCD and OLED, does the LED stand as viable, outdoor, sign-application technology? LED vs. other technologies (Outdoor) For the foreseeable future, the fullcolor, arrayed, LED system will be the de-facto product for outdoor display systems. Look at where we’ve been. In 2000, the outdoor LED display was in its infancy. Insufficient brightness, Best Buy offers LG Electronics 55-in., curved, OLED TV LG Electronics (Seoul, Korea) has officially launched a curved-screen, large-format, OLED full-HD, 1080p TV that is now offered at Best Buy retail stores. Presently titled model 55EA9800, the curved, 55-in. screen gives viewers an IMAX Theater-like experience. The thin-technology, 38-lb. screen features a four-color pixel system that comprises white sub-pixels that fire in conjunction with conventional red, green and blue pixels, to create an expanded (WRGB) color gamut. LG said its color technology solves the premature-aging problem that is characteristic in blue-phosphor materials; as a result, it forecasts a 30,000-hour screen life. One disadvantage is the curved screen limits installation options. Initially, the $14,999 screens are available in Best Buy’s Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, San Antonio and Richfield, MN Magnolia departments. DisplaySearch market research projects global OLED TV unit volume to hit more than seven million by 2016. 34 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2013 / inconsistent illumination, high cost and maintenance challenges plagued the product’s early adoption. Over the ensuing 12 years, brightness has multiplied and is no longer a problem; consistency and color balance are the illumination norm. Further, the product is dramatically more dependable, and prices have plummeted. Outdoor LED technologies are presently available in pixel-pitch applications that range from 4 to 34mm. Today, no other viable medium competes with LEDs for viewing distances in excess of 50 ft. One exception may be neardistance viewing, because highbrightness LCD systems are gaining momentum, especially when chosen for applications viewed from 50 ft. or less, LCDs offer high resolution at a lower cost. However, they have limitations. Many sign specialists, for example, feel the LCD is still not bright enough for general, and especially outdoor, applications. Bill Ripp, director of Lamar Digital, recently said, “LED has a certain pop to it than you cannot get with passive [LCD] technology.” Also, the physical dimension for LCD (and plasma) screens is limited to television-industry sizes, so a close-view application decision becomes an assessment of priorities: lower cost and higher resolution vs. higher illumination that offers size and shape flexibility. LED vs. other technologies (Indoor) Indoor-application choices lean toward the LCD as a current and future medium, because, predominantly, of its ability to satisfy high-resolution and near-distance viewing requirements. However, LCD units are still limited to the size constraints of commercially

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - November 2013

Signs of the Times - November 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
New Products
Design Matters
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Deep Thoughts
Temporary Vanity
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Accessible Training
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - November 2013