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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Microdisplay Technology

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Microdisplay Technology

by Rich Handley

October 2003

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Microdisplays-miniature picture-quality active-matrix electronic displays-provide a solution to the limitations presented by the size and immobility of some traditional displays. Though small, their benefits are great, for they deliver high-quality images in a variety of applications.

Dr. Ian Underwood, co-founder and director of strategic marketing at MicroEmissive Displays Ltd. (Edinburgh, Scotland), sees two main markets for microdisplays: projection and personal. Projection microdisplays, he told AI, "transmit light through or reflect light from a miniature display, pass it through magnifying optics and project it onto a wall or screen." Products of this type, which include data projectors and rear-projection domestic TV, have several key performance criteria-namely, high resolution, brightness, uniformity and color correctness.

Personal (near-to-eye) displays, said Underwood, place images "close to the eye of a single person," with magnifying optics located between the eye and the microdisplay. Examples include electronic view finders (EVFs) in video and digital still cameras (DSCs) that are held close to the eye, as well as wearable displays, virtual reality (VR) headsets and military equivalents.

With personal displays, a module smaller than a one-inch cube can give the appearance of a 17-inch screen. "OLED [organic light-emitting diode] technology is relatively new," said Underwood, "and offers potential advantages for personal displays." These include reduced power consumption, lower cost and lighter modules.

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