I caught the most recent episode of “Click” on BBC over the weekend with the first story being about “OLED” technology demonstrated at the recent CES show in Las Vegas. The CES show basically is a large trade show mostly for home and personal entertainment technology. OLED stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode.
OLED technology is about using thousands of tiny red, blue and green LEDs for the screens we use with computers, mobile phones, TVs and the like. Unlike LCD, OLED does not require a background light so an OLED screen can be as thin as 3mm. OLED screens can also be flexible, so ideas like a mobile phone or a laptop with a very large screen that folds up are possible. The screens can be transparent, so in theory, a window could be a TV screen – a window looking out to the neighbours house could display an ocean view. OLED screens could be used as varying ad displays on billboards. Your car windscreen could have this technology built into in to display your speed and other information. A newspaper could be a single OLED page with numerous stories. OLEDs could be built into glasses. The advantage of OLED over LCD is that OLEDs emit light, thus making them able to be seen clearly in sunlight. The possibilities are pretty well endless. Look at any movie set in the future and you’ll see these ideas. Even the “Scene Screen” in Back to the Future 2 (which has part of the movie set in the year 2015) is a real possibility now (although I don’t think we’ll be riding hover boards or hydrating pizzas any time soon!).
Currently, the technology is very expensive, but like any new technology, the price will drop as manufacturers find ways to manufacture OLEDs cheaper. A 7″ digital photo frame using OLED technology sells for over $1,000. It will be at least 10 years before this technology becomes cheap enough for the mass consumer market of large TVs, and that is, of course, assuming that some other technology does not get there first and render OLED obsolete before it takes off.
Other uses, outside of entertainment, include OLED light surfaces – this is where your ceiling or walls is covered in OLED panels providing light rather than having traditional incandescent or LED light sources. This sort of lighting uses much less eneery and can be controlled to look alot more natural than single point light sources.
I work in the professional lighting and audio industry for Lightsounds. I have watched, over the past years, LED technology transform the professional lighting market with its major advantages being little or no heat output, extremely long life, and lighting fixtures weighing less due to not needing large transformers for high power lighting sources.
At the moment, single LED light sources of 50w can create a light output equivalent to 500w of traditional halogen or discharge lamp outputs. Across the professional lighting range, LEDs are now used for moving heads (like the ones you see on game shows like Millionaire), disco lights, flood lights, outdoor lights, par cans (like what mose small bands use) and other stage lights to name a few. It was only four years ago where the first LED disco lights were so dim, in comparison to their halogen counterparts, that we sold them as lights for bedroom DJs as opposed to a products that could actually be used professionally.
Other places you would notice LED technology taking over includes lighting for cars (brake lights for example), traffic lights are now all LED in NSW (well at least Sydney and Central Coast from what I see).
I imaging the rate of development will be similar for OLEDs, but the current economic climate will means its introduction and roll out to the mass market will be slow as manufactures try to get as much life as possible out of their Plasma and LCD TV models and resources.
I think it will be fantastic to have a TV thinner than the Sunday paper, and, hopefully, my current HD LCD TV will last the years until a 50 inch (127cm) OLED TV becomes available. Maybe by then, it will be an UHD TV (2160 x 3840).
Article updated from original.