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New LCD Flatscreen Concept: A Wedge of Plastic 94

Posted by samzenpus
from the screen-of-the-week dept.
SimianOverlord writes "The Register reports on an innovation in the field of flat panel LCD screens that promises cheaper screens with the same quality using existing manufacturing technology. A Flat Projection Display is created by bouncing light into a thin wedge of plastic from the bottom of the screen, at just the correct angle to allow the rebounded light to escape at the correct pixel. "We have to play around with the image to make sure that the pixels don't bunch up" explained Prof. Travis, the inventor. "If you don't do that the image can appear a little like an image reflected off water" The new technology has already attracted interest from a major TV maker, but don't expect them in your laptop until projector minaturization catches up."
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New LCD Flatscreen Concept: A Wedge of Plastic

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  • HUD / glasses (Score:5, Interesting)

    by old_unicorn (697566) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:04AM (#10917478)
    I wonder if this could work with HUD or for display injection into a pair of glasses? That would be neat - to have the image in your glasses / windscreen!
    • Re:HUD / glasses (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JamesD_UK (721413) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:19AM (#10917529) Homepage
      Don't expect them in your laptop until projector minaturization catches up.

      The display still requires a traditional projector to transmit the image through the display. I suppose that having two projectors attached to your glasses may induce a small amounts of neck strain.

      • by DarkMantle (784415) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:38AM (#10917582) Homepage
        But those bulbs will keep you warm during the winter time. Here in Canada that idea just may sell.
      • The display requires a projector, but it doesn't have to be "traditional". You just need to use a little imagination...

        Lasers can be built onto a chip, so why not build a laser-based projection device and use optical fibers to route the light to the screen?

        First stage of this though would be to build a laser-based projector to couple with this technology for laptop displays.
      • I can have larger projectors head mounted than laptop mounted and the ratio finalsize/projectorsize is far better for head mounts.

        The problem may be one of size and not weight, in which case HUD's could be a lot easier than laptop displays.
      • Sounds like the wedge light system some person developed to add light for the Gameboy that foolish Netendo DID not do.

        Some where I saw some on is working on stearing light by non mechenical means. So combind both and large display with large & variable resolution could be possible.
    • by feepcreature (623518) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:19AM (#10917531) Homepage
      If projection tech needs to catch up so we can use this in a TV or laptop, it'll have to catch up even more to allow it to be used in glasses. But a bigger problem is that the light exits the wedge vertically (or horizontally, if the wedge is sideways), so the diffusing coating they use to make it visible in front or behind would affect transparency.
  • by welshwaterloo (740554) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:05AM (#10917483)
    "We have to play around with the image to make sure that the pixels don't bunch up"

    Anyone else picturing all their pixels sliding down to the corner of the screen in a pink mess..?

  • TV Windows? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Blue_Nile (793198)
    Eventually then you'd be able to put these at the bottom of you window to use it as a tv then?
  • official site: (Score:3, Informative)

    by yruf (463879) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:07AM (#10917488)
    The video [camfpd.com] on their website [camfpd.com] is crap. Don't try it...

  • If I had a dime... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:10AM (#10917498) Journal
    If I had a dime for every new display technology (or other kind of cool technologies) that gets in the papers, I could go to the same clubs of Warren Buffet. But if I had it for the technologies that actually reach me as a consumer, I could barely buy a film ticket, depending on city.

    I don't know exactly why it is but it's a fact. I'm thinking of making a list. It may make for funny reading ten years from now.

    • The other thing that I've noticed is that they're always described as "three to five years away", and they've generally been like that for the last fifteen to twenty years, and will remain "three to five years away" for the next fifteen to twenty years.
      • You forgot the part about how much cheaper they will be to manufacture than current technologies. Either they 1) use readily available raw materials, or 2) less raw materials, or 3) the classic standby: simpler manufacturing process (each of which is always eaten by exorbitant "unexpected" testing costs.)

    • Your point being...?
    • You're implying that it is because most of the technologies are hopeless, but I really think that isn't the case. The fact is, when a hundred new technologies are developed to solve one problem, only one is actually needed. The others are tossed by the wayside not because they are useless but because they are not as useful as another technology.
    • Does Warren Buffet go to 'clubs'? He's probably most unpretentious rich person ever. He drove his '85 Oldsmobile Cutlass almost until it did not run.

  • by ecalkin (468811) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:11AM (#10917500)
    You might call this a prism. The concept of bouncing light off of the inside edge of a prism is what happens in the pentaprism mirror inside a slr camera.

    The big advantage that I can see with this is that a reasonable quality plastic wedge/prism should be much cheaper to replace when it gets damaged. I'm sure the initial cost will still be high, but the expensive stuff can be a little more protected.

    eric
    • The concept of bouncing light off of the inside edge of a prism is what happens in the pentaprism mirror inside a slr camera.

      And also inside most binoculars and also, surprisingly, when you use the 'night' position of your rearview mirror.

  • by mikewas (119762) <wascher@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:16AM (#10917524) Homepage
    This sounds like the HUD on some fighter aircraft -- some have mirrors but others use a high quality chunk of optical glass. It sounds like this approach takes a low tech chunk of plastic and corrects for the abberations in the electronics.

    Cheap silicon wins again -- it's been supplanting copper, now optics.

  • by Viceice (462967) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:20AM (#10917533)
    A prominent female fashion guru has just announced his new master piece, a dress made with 'Flat Projection Display' as it's only fabric.

    "With it, ladies all over may customise their clothing with any pattern or picture they want", beamed the millionaire dressmaker.

    However, he declined comment on what would happen to the otherwise transparent dress after it's power supply, rated for 23 minutes of use, failed.

  • by bartyboy (99076) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:20AM (#10917535)
    why not make screens with no dead or stuck pixels? It's a huge pain in the ass to repack the new screen and bring it back to the store because ONE pixel is not working properly.

    And manufacturers, here's a clue for your QC people: there is no such thing as "acceptable amount of defective pixels". I don't care if they're not touching or not, if they work above 30 degrees Celsius or when submerged in KY jelly. If I'm buying a new car there are no dents or scratches on it, so why should your screens be any different?
    • Why is this mod'd as Troll? It's a fair point - you wouldn't pay full whack for a new sofa (couch) that had holes in; no matter how small or far apart they were. Why should this be any different for LCD monitors? If I buy a monitor that advertises a 1600x1200 resolution then I expect every one of the pixels to be working; otherwise the item is defective.
      • "Why is this mod'd as Troll? It's a fair point - you wouldn't pay full whack for a new sofa (couch) that had holes in; no matter how small or far apart they were. Why should this be any different for LCD monitors? If I buy a monitor that advertises a 1600x1200 resolution then I expect every one of the pixels to be working; otherwise the item is defective."

        It's a 'good point', but that's not what the topic is about. He was likely modded as troll for bitching about something that has little relation to thi
        • by jetmarc (592741) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @03:45PM (#10919749)
          > 1.) That's 1,920,000 individual pixels you want to work perfectly from a source
          > that produces millions of displays. It's hard to do. Life sucks, sorry.

          Throwing in high numbers isnt really a convincing counter-argument. After all
          you also return defective 512MB DIMMs, although they contain 536,870,912 individual
          bits. Or defective 160GB harddrives which contain, let me see, how many bits?

          I know that its difficult to produce such a large panel without any error. But
          OTOH there are ways to fix the problem:

          a) panels can be binned. Actually the ISO standard suggests this, but manufacturers
          simply dont do it. If they were to sell zero-defect panels as such, all non-
          zero-defect panel would have to have at least 1 defect. Currently manufacturers
          prefer to sell "0-5 defects" instead of "0 defects" and "1-5 defects".

          b) panels can be repaired. The most visible types of defect are stuck-on pixels,
          and stuck sub-pixels (which change the color of the intended pixel). With laser
          technology any pixel can be "burned away" and be turned into less annoying
          stuck-off pixels. While this doesnt make the panel "zero-defect", it certainly
          would combine well with suggestion a), because getting a "1-5 defects" item at
          lower price would only mean 1-5 dark pixels. Which is more tolerable than todays
          surprise-bouquet of colored pixels.

          c) panels can be designed fault-tolerant. It would perfectly be possible to use
          redundancy to tolerate the loss of pixels. If, eg, 2 transistors were used
          instead of one, with separate control wiring, the loss of one wouldnt matter.
          Only when both were to be damaged (both of any one pixel), the pixel would
          actually be unusable. This method costs panel space to implement, of course.
          You wouldnt be able to fit the highest resolution into lowest dimension anymore,
          or would have to improve the process resolution. This is the price to be paid
          for higher yield.

          Unless customers start to vote with money, things wont change. Today people complain
          about defective pixels, but only few actually go out and get a "zero defects
          guaranteed" product. Most just hope the best, and some try to return the bad ones
          with a made-up excuse.

          Marc
        • I agree with both of you, it really sucks having a dead pixel, but it's a pain not to get one. But if I'm paying full price for a LCD I want it to be flawless, if you aren't going to make sure there are no pixels, then sell it a bit less then the price of one without flawed pixels?\ They are coming down in price a lot, but they are still expensive. A good LCD costs more then the whole PC I have it on, if I'm paying that money, I want no dead pixels.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        you wouldn't pay full whack for a new sofa (couch) that had holes in; no matter how small or far apart they were

        All sofas have holes in them. So it does matter how small they are.

    • "why not make screens with no dead or stuck pixels?"

      What a brilliant idea. Let's skip building a new cheaper technology that couldn't possibly have this problem and instead perfect a method that insures that 786,432 pixels are working! Afterall, any engineer who works with prisms for a living is an ideal candidate to switch gears over to LCD production!
      • I was thinking more along the lines of having the choice of purchasing a model that has no defective pixels, guaranteed, and the same model, which may or may not have dead pixels.

        Scrapping an LCD screen because of one dead pixel at the QC stage is out of the question; however the screens could be sorted and the good ones could be sold at a slight premium. After all, how long does it take to perform a dead/stuck pixel test? 5 seconds? 10?

        And if a new technology comes along and solves this problem, then h
    • If I'm buying a new car there are no dents or scratches on it, so why should your screens be any different?

      Troll or not, I just had to reply to this one sentence in your ramblings.

      I you're buying a new car, there are no scratches or dents on it. True. But you do NOT want to know what happened with your car before your received it.

      I know a lot of people in the automotive industry, ranging from people who build cars to people who sell them. There are a lot of things that could happen to your car prior to

    • Call me morbid (mmm dead pixels, cheap dead pixels), but you go ahead and check if you can get that laptop at 40% of the price. I'll buy it from you at 65% of the price. 25% means four laptops like that and you can pay for the one you want.

      Hello?

      Please, I'm begging you oh please get me of this 233 with broken battery compartment. I cannot bear it!

      No more... No MOrE I cAN't TaKE iT.

      Hello?

      Thank you.
    • Getting a good LCD monitor is simple -- I did it for my wife -- I went to a store (future shop), told the salsdriod what unit I wanted, and that I wanted to see it work with my laptop. I had him bring one out -- I opened the box, plugged it into my laptop, and what do you know -- 2 bad pixels -- I had him get another, and another (the third one was OK.) I just refused to hand over any money until I saw that the unit I was buying had no bad pixels.
      • Might work for a monitor, but when I said I wanted to see a laptop working before I bought it, Compusa gave me a song and dance about not being able to do that. Solution? Don't buy from them. So I didn't. If I can't see the screen before I buy, I might as well buy online.
  • Prism... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sai Babu (827212) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:32AM (#10917560) Homepage


    First thing that came to mind was the film Brazil [filmsite.org] and the tiny CRTs with big lenses.

    Pretty clever.

    One way to acheive is mirror array at 'base' ala DLP. DOn't know if this is the approach, but if so, corrections for each pixel would be pretty easy to handle in firmware.

  • by Zangief (461457) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:33AM (#10917566) Homepage Journal
    Personal air travel!

    Take off anywhere, land anywhere. Fast, secure, simple.

    Just wait until airplane miniaturization catches up.
    --
    Wiki de Ciencia Ficcion y Fantasia [uchile.cl]
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:36AM (#10917571)
    It sounds as if these folks think they know how to manufacture these displays, but have not actually done so yet. I predict they will discover that injection molding cannot create the large optically flat surfaces they need to create an undistorted image. Differences in the solidification time across the wedge will distort the shape of the surfaces and distort the images. Any differences in the temperature across the injected flow of resin will create internal ripples in the wedge. I also wonder if they have a way of controlling thermal distortions during use where the back of the wedge is warmer than the front and thus causes the wedge to curl.

    Invention is easy. Manufacturing in high quantity, high quality, low price is the actual hard part. And undercutting the deflating price-performance curve of other well-established competing technologies is even harder. That said, I do wish them luck.
    • I predict they will discover that injection molding cannot create the large optically flat surfaces they need to create an undistorted image. Differences in the solidification time across the wedge will distort the shape of the surfaces and distort the images.

      From the article, it sounds like they correct for this in software. You'd need to calibrate the firmware specially for each new display, but it's doable and can be automated.

      • From the article, it sounds like they correct for this in software. You'd need to calibrate the firmware specially for each new display, but it's doable and can be automated

        I hope so, but don't see how it can work. The problem is getting a seamless image between the part of the image that bounces N times inside the wedge before exting versus the one that bounces N+1 times. The upper edge of the light that bounces N times inside the wedge before exiting to the screen must magically fall adjacent to the
        • Well, the main problem with the image that bounces N and N+1 times is that if you have the diffuser touching the wedge then you actually tend to get black bands around the pixels - which for 1mm^2 pixels could be quite annoying - so the trick is to adjust the distance of the diffuser from the wedge to get optimum quality. However - It still assumes that the wedge is providing a relatively uniform image, so at least to start with it'll need to be high quality, and probably machined - which isn't going to do
    • I'm interested to know the cross-sectional area of the wedge. It's tough to injection mould plastic more than a cm thick without getting sinks or other defects which would seriously mess up their system.

      That being said 500k sounds about right for the tool if it is a large lens (the 50" screen mentioned perhaps). The cycle times would I think be longish...perhaps 2 or 3 minutes if it is thin, much longer if it is thick. That means that in a given day you can make less than 500 of these even if everythi


      • It's not too difficult to make corrections in firmware after assembly. As for the injection molding, follow on steps could make the prism faces really flat. Lapping comes to mind. Lapping works well for glass too. Pouring prismatic glass sheets is not difficult. In manufacturing think in terms of cycle time for each step. Production is limited by the longest step. Glass prisms can be poured as a contimuous process, sheared, and lapped. This works for polycarbonate as well.

        So, no, I don't see any manufatr
    • There is a trick that works fairly well with our transparent acrylic parts (I work in an injection-molding plastics factory).

      We anneal them in an oven for a couple of hours.

      Now, how could this be used to produce perfect optical-quality surfaces inexpensively as doing this without softening the plastic to an undesireable quality? Simply anneal the part in the oven at a high pressure. Whatever surface that it rests upon MUST BE OF PERFECT OPTICAL SMOOTHNESS AND QUALITY. Done correctly, it can even allow
  • by tod_miller (792541) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @09:40AM (#10917589) Journal
    They have developed an ill fitting sawtoothed double paned glass window that pushes more light further into the room, and less hits the area directly below the window, making offices lighter.

    This is basically doing the same but replacing light with a projector source.

    Imagine a specially moulded radially displaced set of panes, that had a central gun firing at them in a 180 arc, and the timing /angles were such that you got a perfect image.

    Make sense?

    the viewing angle would have to be compensated a bit...

    Check new scientist for the story on lighter windows.
  • Free Space Display (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Shanemoe (834379) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @10:03AM (#10917672) Homepage
    http://www.io2technology.com/dojo/178/v.jsp Free Space Display, Project the Images into the Air... No need for bulky Screens... Think it will work?
  • Can they run on methane? I'd gladly welcome any sort of device that runs longer when I fart on it.
  • He lectures about half of 1st year undergrad Engineering students in Maths.

    But, back on topic, I did see (what I assume was) an earlier prototype of this last year on an Open Day. From what I saw of it, the picture was quite good, however it had the same shortcomings as any other image produced by a projector - it wasn't that bright. So people who say this will not replace CRTs are probably right, but this isn't really its intended market.

    This is designed for people who want a home cinema but don't ha

  • English displays (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Thursday November 25, 2004 @12:06PM (#10918297)
    I read a funny review of the Z88 a long time ago. The Z88 had a small LCD display "bought from the Japanese", but that was the result of an epic battle inside Sinclair. Clive Sinclair himself was quoted as saying "LCD's are rubbish, we have the only real portable display technology". This was based on the Sinclair pocket TV, which bent electron beams through 90 degrees with a big magnet. The journalist writing the review said that he saw a demonstration and "you placed your chin on a rest, and saw a ghostly green four lines of twenty characters floating in the infinite distance."

    There was a memorable conversation with Alan Sugar who bought the Sinclair

    Reviewer: Do you have the rights to the Pandora display?
    AS: We have the rights to all the Sinclair patents
    R: Do you plan any products based on Pandora?
    AS: Have you seen it?
    R: Yes.
    AS: Well then.

    Oddly, no Pandora based products were ever produced.
  • Why is this being reported as new? I first heard about it more than two years ago (may have been more like three years).

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