tems. Smaller screens, such as those foundon cell phones, will be limited in the number of touch inputs that can be effectivelyused because of finger size.
According to figures from Display-Search, the market for multitouch displays is expected to grow quickly. Thetotal touch-screen module market stoodat an estimated $3.6 billion in 2008, withmultitouch accounting for about 25
percent of that. By 2015, the total touch-
screen module market is forecast to be
ogy. She noted that the company’s multi-
touch capability does not demand a high-
“We use standard business PCs, nothing
fantastic,” she said. “To track all 10 fin-
gers 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
$9 billion. Of that, $4.2 billion will bemultitouch.
There are applications, such as thekiosks used for airline check-in or specialized registers in restaurants, where single-touch is fine. Those settings are unlikelyto switch to more expensive multitouchtechnology.
Boosting brightness whilecutting power
Finally, there are enhancements thatpromise to bring high-brightness yet thinand low-power displays to televisions andmobile devices. Some of these can befound in the backlight that sits behindevery LCD. Switching to LEDs can cutpower by as much as 30 percent and canresult in sharper images, both courtesy ofthe ability to rapidly modulate the outputfrom an LED.
That same ability could prove useful inother areas, as there have been demonstrations where a modulated backlight hasbeen used as a communication channel.One possibility would be to have the display communicate with a cell phone orcomputer pointed at it, like a TV remote inreverse.
Other improvements involve the liquidcrystals themselves. The next generationof displays could employ the polymer-sta-bilized vertical alignment material developed by Merck KGaA of Darmstadt, Germany. Thanks to an additional polymerlayer, the molecules in the display materialare pre-aligned in a particular direction.As a result, contrast is improved, switching times are faster, and transmission ofthe 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 thepower consumed by such things as TVsand extends battery life in mobile devices.Roman Maisch, senior vice president ofmarketing and sales in Merck’s liquid crystals division, noted that the new material isalready 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 head-
ing, 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 develop-
ment of liquid crystal materials is the
For information on projection technol-
ogy, see “Pico Boom” on page 76.