If the advances in direct LED technology were compared on a scale with changes LCD resolutions, it would be like moving from Full HD, to 4K and 8K in about 18 months. AV News filmed some footage of the new 1mm pitch direct LED display on the Aoto booth (a similar product was on show on the Unilumin booth), and 1.5 mm was on show all over the show.
SiliconCore’s newly launched its Magnolia 1.50mm pixel pitch in a full Ultra HD format was an outstanding example (see the video below). AV News awarded Silicon Core the AV Innovation of the Year Award for the company’s Common Cathode technology, which allows a greater concentration of LEDs and reduces energy consumption.
Steve Scorse, SiliconCore’s VP of EMEA explains: “SiliconCore has revolutionised the LED display industry by developing a new way to drive the LEDs using the Common Cathode mode, replacing the traditional Common Anode method. The Common Cathode mode is a much more efficient design, ensuring that power is not lost to heat, thereby reducing power consumption and increasing the lifespan of the display, resulting in a market leading lower total cost of ownership.”
The Magnolia 1.50mm offers the smallest pixel pitch display currently on the market, making direct view LED displays an option for close proximity applications. The innovative design of the Common Cathode LED driver circuits makes these LED displays suitable for markets that traditionally used other display technologies, such as LCD, plasma or DLP projection cubes.
The pixel pitch of the Magnolia results in the elimination of Moiré effects and, combined with the specialised circuitry that eliminates ghosting, these displays are particularly well suited for TV broadcast studio applications. Other applications for the LED screens include corporate lobbies and conference suites, high-end signage in retail environments, VIP areas in sporting arenas and large format displays for command and control centres.
Stuart Holmes, MD of the PSCo Group, has invested a lot of time investigating suppliers of direct LED displays, including many trips to China. He advocates caution when selecting a technology partner in this area, explaining: “Building a facility to make the components for an LED video wall costs hundreds of millions of dollars, often backed by the Chinese government. There are many companies out there that will sell you a 1.5 / 1.6 mm, but you have to ask about long-term support and continuity of supply. Do they have their own factory? Do they make their own components?”
Holmes has put the time in to establish the precise interrelationships of his suppliers and argues that 1.9 / 2.0 mm is still a cutting edge technology. At ISE, Eyevis, for example, introduced its 1.5 mm and 2 mm LED display solutions. These share control and image processing technologies with other Eyevis solutions. This means that the LED video wall can be integrated with other Eyevis displays. In adopting existing technologies with direct LED, Eyevis is confident that it can offer a service proposition that is equal to or better than any supplier in the LED market.
With a brightness of up to 2000 cd/m² (1,5 mm), a refresh rate of 2,500 Hz and 16 Bit colour depth the LEDs offer perfect visibility of the displayed content even in bright ambient light conditions. With an extremely high viewing angle of up to 180° and a seamless design, the new display offers a pixel density of 444.444px/m² (1.5 mm) and 250.000px/m² (2 mm). It is now possible to display full HD signals in native resolution even on smaller video wall surfaces. As a modular system, the LED modules can be utilised as mobile video walls for events, where upright or hanging installation is possible. Even a concave wall can be achieved and the high durability of the LEDs guarantees low maintenance costs.
Looking at some of the developments further down the track, we took the opportunity presented by ISE to visit two of the companies on the bleeding edge of LED technology – the 1 mm pitch indoor LED display. AOTO has been in production since 1993 and currently has the largest LED video wall in the UK at London’s Waterloo Station featuring advertising from Audi . The company five new products on show at ISE 2014, including an 8k 24-bit LED control system and a prototype of the now famous 1 mm pixel pitch LED module. (see the ISE highlights video below.)
The new 1 mm modules clearly had a year to 16 months of development required but the fact that they were on show at all was the interesting point.
Also on show at ISE 2014 was Unilumin. The company had the honour of providing displays for the Sochi Winter Olympics, including cylindrical LED displays. Recently, XL Video placed a $15million with the company. The focus of Unilumin’s presence at the show was its seamless video walls. These range from 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.6mm, 1.9mm to 2.5mm Unilumin says that, comparing its LED video wall to DLP or LCD displays, its seamless and bezel-free, so it can display a mix of data and video without the distraction of seams or bezels. It can also be curved to provide users with better viewing experience.
So the message coming from the show floor at ISE 2014 was “be cautious but don’t be put off”. LED offers unparalleled brightness, stunning and increasingly subtle colour and reliability. The reasons why the ability to present images on super-wide screens will be important in the future, see our piece on page 14 (‘Big Data, Bigger displays’). The discussion here is of multi-projector displays for the entry-level and cubes for the high-end. Somewhere in there is a role for direct LED.