LED innovations: curves, shapes and edges on show

Absen’s curved DVLED wall on show at PSCo’s new HQ.

The opening of the new Midwich / PSCo HQ in Bracknell was the ideal opportunity to take a detailed look at some of the latest innovations in direct LED displays. The occasion set us off searching for more developments in what is fast becoming clients and customers go-to display technology.

LED is fast becoming the technology of choice for end-users looking for intense. powerful digital images, and the way prices are moving for LED this can only accelerate. This month look at innovations in LED, including MicroLED, Curved LED Walls and edge-edge LED displays.

Nowhere is the trend in displays more apparent then in retail. Retailers are having to respond to new challenges to stay competitive in the current business climate. Many want to install once and prolong the investment as long as possible, so they are opting for stand-out AV technologies that not only offer the wow factor and drive business into stores, but that deliver the highest reliability and warranties.

LED is the digital display technology that every retailer wants in their store, and installers and vendors are trying to stay one step ahead – by being the go-to experts in the field of LED, working together to provide product design and specification, bespoke project handling and installation. Retailers are looking for assurance that they have the best solution for their store environment.

While LED is undoubtedly becoming more affordable, Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe GmbH warns: “The variation in quality in the dvLED market is vast. Whilst prices are dropping, there are still innovative components which remain cost intense. ‘Beware the cheap product’ is particularly pertinent in this sphere.

Five-year plan

The five-year partnership celebrated by Absen and PSCo has seen the LED market in general go through some seismic shifts since 2014. The seemingly endless proliferation of unknown brands from Far East has slowed from a flood to a trickle. Those brands enjoyed success as part of that first wave have bedded down to become reliable and stable suppliers, really only challenged by established by the major generic display brands adding LED to their portfolios.

So, what were the factors that determined the ‘winners and losers’ in LED? Alex Cousins, head of brand and marketing for Absen Europe, believes that, over a ten-year, Absen has become a brand of choice for integration partners and rental/staging companies around the world by (1) focusing on making high quality products and (2) providing channel partners with high levels of support in their local market.

“The UK is one of Absen’s main markets, so finding the right partner was key,” said Couzins. “We’re so pleased that the partnership is going from strength to strength, thanks to PSCo offering our customers easy access and support for our products, not to mention the local three-year warranty, which includes repair down to a single pixel.”

MiniLED

One of the innovations featured at the PSCo event Aries AX1.5 – Absen’s newest MiniLED display. It was announced that the initial batch manufactured sold out immediately, confirming the strong demand for the 1.5 mm fine pitch LED in the rental market. In the UK, DB Pixelhouse, Onyx and Catalyst were among the first to add the new product to their rental fleets.

Absen’s Aries LED display series is aimed at professional rental companies for high-end corporate events, conferences, auto shows, e-gaming competitions and broadcast applications, and is the first such product to combine a 4-in-1 integrated pixel design and Common Cathode technology.

“Absen has dedicated two years of development to the Aries project; a decision that’s yielded a number of technological innovations and mechanical advances. This commitment has ensured that the product’s exceptional visual performance will not be hindered by the physical demands of the rental staging market.”

PSCo’s head of LED, Liam Winter, said: “The past 18-24 months has seen a number of attempts to solve the issue of using 1.5 mm pixel pitch for rental, but there has always been a visual and operational compromise. Whether the technical solution has been COB (chip-on-board) or coated SMD (GOB, or Glue-on-Board), the visual performance including contrast, colour uniformity and visual seams has not met the expectations set by SMD. Combine this with the inability to repair a single pixel, and the solution is simply not a compelling or viable option for rental use.”

“Absen’s Aries 1.5 MiniLED technology solves all of these issues. Not only does it exceed the visual performance of traditional SMD, it also delivers increased pixel strength and maintains the ability to repair pixels. Combine this with Absen’s Common Cathode technology, and you have the ability to boost maximum brightness 30% higher than traditional LED, ensuring your LED screen can deliver the same visual impact you’ve come to expect from larger pixel pitch products.”

Absen’s Aries AX1.5 features a 16:9 aspect ratio panel, integrated pixel protection system, auto-lock mechanism and support for 4K UHD resolution and HDR10 standards.

SiliconCore’s Lotus 0.83 mm dvLED display shares the low power consumption, high brightness and low operating temperatures associated with other SiliconCore products.

Common cathode

The credit for creating common cathode goes to patent holders SiliconCore Technology The company’s latest introduction is the Lotus 0.83 mm LED display. This shares the low power consumption, high brightness and low operating temperatures associated with other SiliconCore products. At 2000 nits, the Lotus 0.83 mm display surpasses the market norm, with the brightest and most efficient sub-1mm pitch LED display in the world, consuming up to 50% less power compared to similar displays of its kind.

It features SiliconCore’s latest innovation, LISA – a proprietary encapsulation process that guards the high-density LEDs and is claimed to ensure colour uniformity and a long lifetime. Its cool surface is dust and water resistant which makes it very durable and suitable for touch and custom install applications, with a very close viewing distance.

Eric Li, SiliconCore’s CEO, comments:

“This new Lotus 0.83 mm display is a huge achievement for the SiliconCore innovation teams and delivers a viable, high resolution LED display to the market for the first time. We are once again raising the bar for the industry and for the first time we will be licensing our technologies so that we can work with the best in the industry to continue to push the boundaries of what is possible.”

A 4K resolution display can now be achieved at 144″ with a smooth, touchable surface. This is said to make the technology perfect for a variety of environments including board rooms and meeting spaces, design centres, lobbies, home theatres, visualization applications and control rooms.

The display has excellent HDR performance with a visible 16-bit grayscale using SiliconCore’s Z.A.C.H. driver chip. This technology is said to allow for better colour fidelity in low brightness with more detail for black and low grey scale content.

Curves

Jasmin Stemmler, product marketing manager, NEC Display Solutions Europe GmbH reports that NEC, together with its subsidiary S[quadrat], offers a complete portfolio of indoor and outdoor LED solutions. Off-the-shelf solutions include the all in one plug and play LED A Series Poster and bundled standard resolution FA Series LED solutions. Complex installations receive bespoke solutions and are tailored to meet the clients’ needs by LED specialist S[quadrat].

With Multi-Colour SMD technology, NEC’s FA Series is a high-quality product with best-in-class viewing angles and humidity resistance. Usually, LED elements have a variable convex surface due to the polyamide shrinking during the curing process. Multi-Colour LEDs however, have a flat surface owing to a special polyamide which does not undergo shrinkage. The resultant level surface enables a wider viewing angle of up to 160 degrees.

The uniform flush surface generates an unprecedented consistency between LED batches when it comes to viewing angles, colour wavelength and brightness deviation. In addition, the special polyamide provides a matt finish to the surface, enabling a unique display appearance which prevents any reflection of ambient light. Meccale Black PPA LEDs are not vulnerable to layer separation making them highly stable and reliable in long-term operation with failure rates under 30 parts per million.

Problem solving

Curves, free-standing, edge-to-edge and irregular shapes and all possible with dvLED today. This 90-degree curved NEC LED wall is designed to attract new visitors to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London.

One of the potential problems of LED SMDs is corrosion. This is due to humidity – especially challenging during screen restart after standby. To ensure highest operation reliability, Multi-Colour has developed a humidity proof diode design with an isolated island. The lamp-beads are sealed against vapour which might otherwise enter the functional area. The humidity-proof LEDs offer longer operation times with consistent image performance

The NEC FA Series is equipped with redundant power supplies and data receiving cards for every single module. This allows for fail-safe operation even in demanding and mission critical environments. In the unlikely event of failure, modules automatically switch to the redundant components without any need of user interaction.

The LED controller offers flexible signal inputs and facilitates a wide range of system architectures as well as adoption of legacy installations. Setup and configuration can be comfortably achieved via browser, even allowing for wireless connectivity via NEC’s optional Mosaic Connect Box.

Flexible modules offer the possibility to deliver curved installations. However, this creative opportunity can also be achieved with standard modules, up to a certain angle, such as NEC’s recent installation at the Royal Opera House – see https://www.nec-display-solutions.com/p/uk/en/seemore/casestudies/dp/Products/Shared/CaseStudies/RoyalOperaHouse/RoyalOperaHouse.xhtml

The future of LED?

Samsung’s The Wall Professional

Also showing in the last couple of months was the much anticipated The Wall Pro from Samsun, presented by PSCo as the “future of LED technology”. Again featuring next generation MicroLED technology, The Wall Pro builds on the success of the Samsung IF Series, combining LED HDR technology with cutting-edge micro size colour-enhancing LED chips for a true-to-life visual experience.

Andrew Douglas, Product Manager of Samsung, said: “The Wall Pro represents a defining moment, as we enter a new era of MicroLED display technologies that are set to completely re-shape the display market as we know it.” ‘The Wall Professional’ – a modular, large-format indoor MicroLED display that can extend to hundreds of inches in size while delivering outstanding brightness, contrast and viewing angles. The Wall Professional will serve as the centrepiece of a futuristic Samsung booth (4-S100) experience that welcomes ISE attendees into the future of commercial and professional interaction.

“By upgrading to powerful LED displays that blend into all professional environments without space or size restrictions, businesses can deliver a next-level content experience that captivates audiences and ultimately translates to significant growth,” said Seog-gi Kim, Executive Vice President of Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “The Wall Professional is just one component of our broad line-up that offers futuristic solutions to emerging operational challenges, and we look forward to sharing our vision for what’s next with our customers, partners and peers.”

The Wall Professional’s modular design allows for customised configurations beyond or below its 146-inch size standard. Users can add or remove unlimited LED screens to and from The Wall Professional without impacting performance or presentation quality. The display’s self-emitting MicroLED pixel modules produce brilliant imagery free of colour filters or backlighting and envelop viewers through elevated peak brightness (up to 1,600 nits) and a near infinite contrast ratio.”

The Wall Professional builds upon its consumer counterpart with the integration of Samsung’s MagicInfo content management platform. Within MagicInfo, users can create, schedule and deploy content across a single Wall Professional display or Wall Professional display network from any location. The platform also provides complete display performance visibility for immediate error detection and troubleshooting.

Mounting expectations

The emergence of direct view LED is heralded as one of the most exciting new developments in many sectors, especially those where the absence of bevels and seams is important for the quality of the image. Three years ago, DvLED was still in its infancy as a new technology and we are already seeing LED walls in all manner of creative size and configuration possibilities. These range from fixed to wall and pop-out, to ceiling suspended, recessed, moveable, and even concave and convex curved display

The biggest issue for LED, specifically relating to mounting solutions, has been standardisation of the fixing positions. Unlike the VESA standard patterns for LCD, each DvLED brand has a different cabinet configuration and there are many systems for locking cabinets together. A further challenge for the mount is to provide sufficient adjustability to fine tune the cabinet position and deliver a truly seamless appearance.  Requirements will vary greatly as even a flat wall is never truly flat, and today’s mounts for LED video walls must be able to adapt to a wide range of scenarios.

Peerless-AV has developed universal, dedicated and custom DvLED mounting solutions for indoor and outdoor displays. Quick and easy to install, these solutions are UL safety tested, quality assured, modular for easy transportation and damage prevention, and precision engineered with display-specific adaptors and mounting patterns. An aluminium frame minimises wall load and predetermined adaptor rail locations speed up assembly, while tight tolerances and wall plate spacers ensure LED cabinets are positioned correctly. Adjustment on the X, Y, and Z axis overcomes wall imperfections, aligns pixels and smooths any installation irregularities. Depth adjustment at the rear of the frame also makes fine-tuning easier and facilitates a slimmer aesthetic design.

Future prospects

So, there we have it: technology exists to build dvLED walls of just about any shape, edge-to-edge and curved in a convex or concave manner from reliable and respected suppliers for an increasingly affordable price. It comes as no surprise that it is the prestige installations that attract the headlines, but with purchase and operating costs falling, expect dvLED to attract buyers in mainstream applications much sooner than you might expect. NEC’s dvLED application-specific bundles point to the future.

 

 

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