CEATEC 2008: OOH is getting bigger; ITH is getting skinny and 3D is getting everywhere

October 23, 2008

DSC_0002 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.

DSC_0101 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. DSC_0034 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. DSC_0088 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.

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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. DSC_0013

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


DisplayLink Technology Expands into Japan with Mitsubishi’s First USB Monitor

October 7, 2008

From Forbes.com

Mitsubishi Electric Corp. is now shipping its first USB PC monitor powered by DisplayLink Corp.’s innovative network display technology.

Currently available in Japan, the new Mitsubishi WIDE LCD display (model RDT201WDL) is a 20.1-inch, wide-format system that relies on DisplayLink technology to give notebook users easy access to multi-monitor computing – all through one convenient USB connection.
In addition to its integrated USB display capabilities and 1680 x 1050 resolution, the new Mitsubishi WIDE LCD display (model RDT201WDL) features a built-in Ethernet connection and a USB hub that allows users to connect a mouse directly to the monitor as well. All together, the display is a smart solution for any notebook user who wants to transform a notebook experience into a desktop experience with just one cable.

"Notebook PCs are perfect for working on a plane or train but not always so productive back at the office. The new Mitsubishi WIDE LCD display (model RDT201WDL) with DisplayLink’s USB technology helps give mobile workers the visual workspace they need with next to no hassle," said Hamid Farzaneh, DisplayLink president and CEO. "Once again, a leading global electronics company has recognized that DisplayLink’s plug-and-play technology is the best choice for delivering exceptional performance across multiple screens.

"The collaboration helps extend Mitsubishi’s proven LCD display leadership into the fast-growing USB monitor market, while also expanding the availability of DisplayLink’s innovations in Asia."

Besides bringing convenience and performance, the new Mitsubishi WIDE LCD display (model RDT201WDL) is a sustainability standout. Its energy-saving feature allows people to choose three levels of energy usage, depending on their requirements, and an on-screen energy meter shows how much power is being consumed, promoting awareness of power usage. When compared to traditional LCD systems, the combined power-saving capabilities of the new Mitsubishi WIDE LCD display (model RDT201WDL) can decrease energy use by up to 36 percent.

Energy consumption is further minimized thanks to the nature of the embedded DisplayLink hardware and software that efficiently drives multi-monitor computing via USB. DisplayLink research shows that connecting one additional display via USB increases power use by just seven percent. But if users install a discrete graphics solution onto their PCs to enable another monitor, power usage jumps 67 percent.

"That’s an important – and costly – difference for any enterprise aiming to lead in ‘green IT,’" said Farzaneh.

About DisplayLink
DisplayLink Corp. is a network display chip and software company that helps people create simple connections between computers and displays – via USB, making the benefits of expanded visual workspace available to everyone. Using universally accepted wired or wireless networking protocols and proprietary software compression techniques, graphically rich content can be transmitted easily between a single device and multiple displays over a network. Leading global manufacturers have integrated network display technology into an array of consumer electronics including USB-enabled monitors, video docking stations, display adapters and projectors. More information is at http://www.displaylink.com.

DisplayLink Technology Expands into Japan with Mitsubishi’s First USB Monitor – Forbes.com