ogy. She noted that the company’s multitouch capability does not demand a high-end computer.
“We use standard business PCs, nothing
fantastic,” she said. “To track all 10 fingers at one time gives you roughly a 15-
ms response time. So we’re processing the
inputs quite quickly.”
As for where multitouch displays might
show up, classrooms are a possibility, as
are conference rooms, where collaboration
is needed, and home entertainment sys-
tems. Smaller screens, such as those found
on cell phones, will be limited in the number of touch inputs that can be effectively
used because of finger size.
According to figures from Display-Search, the market for multitouch displays is expected to grow quickly. The
total touch-screen module market stood
at an estimated $3.6 billion in 2008, with
multitouch accounting for about 25
percent of that. By 2015, the total touch-screen module market is forecast to be
$9 billion. Of that, $4.2 billion will be
There are applications, such as the
kiosks used for airline check-in or specialized registers in restaurants, where single-touch is fine. Those settings are unlikely
to switch to more expensive multitouch
Boosting brightness while
Finally, there are enhancements that
promise to bring high-brightness yet thin
and low-power displays to televisions and
mobile devices. Some of these can be
found in the backlight that sits behind
every LCD. Switching to LEDs can cut
power by as much as 30 percent and can
result in sharper images, both courtesy of
the ability to rapidly modulate the output
from an LED.
That same ability could prove useful in
other areas, as there have been demonstrations where a modulated backlight has
been used as a communication channel.
One possibility would be to have the display communicate with a cell phone or
computer pointed at it, like a TV remote in
Other improvements involve the liquid
crystals themselves. The next generation
of displays could employ the polymer-sta-bilized vertical alignment material developed by Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany. Thanks to an additional polymer
layer, the molecules in the display material
are pre-aligned in a particular direction.
As a result, contrast is improved, switching times are faster, and transmission of
the light through the medium is increased.
The last, in turn, means that the backlight brightness can be significantly reduced. Since the backlight is the major energy sink in an LCD, the material cuts the
power consumed by such things as TVs
and extends battery life in mobile devices.
Roman Maisch, senior vice president of
marketing and sales in Merck’s liquid crystals division, noted that the new material is
already being put to use in LCD TVs.
In summing up the material demands of
tomorrow’s displays, he also outlined
where the overall display market is heading, noting, “Faster switching times will
be also for the future a key driver for the
development of liquid crystal materials.
Another factor which drives the development of liquid crystal materials is the
trend for green products.”
For information on projection technology, see “Pico Boom” on page 76.