I recently visited the CEATEC electronics show in Tokyo and was completely knocked out by some of the technologies on display. CEATEC is perhaps the premier event in the world for the showcasing of new electronics products and technologies. Although I have followed reports of the show religiously for a number of years, this was my first time actual visit – and it didn’t disappoint.
Nearly 200,000 people poured through the doors over the five days of the show; on the day I visited the gate was nearly 48,000. It was packed! But somehow the frenetic atmosphere and jostling to peer through the assembled masses at the latest gadget actually added to the excitement.
The great thing about CEATEC is that it is part pro-equipment and part consumer, so it’s possible to see what’s around the corner in both sectors of the displays business at once.
From a professional standpoint, it’s clear that the digital signage movement has finally gained the momentum that many have been predicting for a number of years. Mitsubishi Electric dedicated virtually the whole of its professional products area to a digital signage display based around its Resolia LED screens and flat panel displays. Image content was delivered to the mix of displays by a new Video over IP solution. Unfortunately, my Japanese didn’t stretch to finding out more, but I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard of this particular technology.
Aside from Mitsubishi, there were plenty of other manufacturers there hawking displays clearly intended for DOOH applications. Large-format LCDs from a number of companies were much in evidence, and particularly noteworthy was the number of really big format screens – 72” and above – being showcased by Chinese and Korean producers that are as yet unheard of in the West. Possibly an early indication of a price-squeeze in the channel at DOOH hots-up around the world?
The other big trend is for wafer-thin displays, with Sony leading the field with its astonishingly gossamer-like OLED screen. So thin is this screen, in fact, that my camera couldn’t get an accurate focus on it side on – it really is quite remarkable. The picture quality was also quite impressive, and it seems that Sony might be onto something with its OLED. But other manufacturers are following closely and Sony will have to be careful not to make the mistake it did with LED and take its eye off the ball.
The other interesting new display technology on show at CEATEC was Mitsubishi Electric’s Laservue laser powered rear projection TV. The new displays were demonstrated in special private viewing theatres and visitors queued for up to an hour at a time to get a glimpse of this new technology. Aimed at the home market, the colour rendition of Laservue is quite remarkable – the colours really punch-out of the screen – putting this display pretty much at the top-end of the market. both in terms of performance and price. Mitsubishi finished its presentation of Laservue with some 3D footage that was impressive. Although perhaps not quite so interesting at some of the other 3D technologies on show.
3D display has been around for quite a while in various guises but continues to suffer the perennial problem of how to get two separate images onto the same screen without the use of special glasses. That is, until now.
Panasonic had this interesting device on show – a full colour, full motion 3D screen that requires no glasses. As I understand it, special optical strips restrict image crossover between the viewers eyes to give an illusion of depth. It really does work, however as you’d expect, the viewing angle is quite restricted to get the full effect. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting approach. The obvious application is in mobile devices, and on the KDDi stand, they demonstrated just that – a phone with a 3D display. Again, it worked – albeit with the same provisos as the Panasonic.
But perhaps my favourite exhibit of the whole show was a new range of concept mobile phones inspired by Yamaha that really exemplifies the Japanese genius for design and ingenuity: We’ve all heard of playing music on your phone, but how about REALLY playing music – as in strumming a guitar, pounding the keys or blowing some cool sax? Well, now you can, and so can all your friends.
The new phones contain built-in musical instruments that allow you to play by “plucking” strings or hitting tiny piano keyboards or blowing through an electronic mouthpiece. The ensemble shown here demonstrated the possibilities in an onstage jam-session, each member playing a different “instrument”. There’s no denying the genius of the idea, although I suspect the novelty will wear pretty thin on commuters forced to endure endless tinny renditions of ‘Smoke On The Water’ on the 5.17 from Charing Cross.
You can view more pictures of the Mitsubishi stand at CEATEC HERE