The Debut of a New Display Technology

Make Room for the Latest Must-Know Acronym: LPD

It’s not that often that a new display technology comes along. So it was with a good bit of anticipation that I traveled to Amsterdam the first week of February to see for myself what the buzz has been about surrounding the debut of San Jose, California-based Prysm’s new LPD display technology.

In private demos of the technology on-site at the ISE show in Amsterdam with Prysm creators Roger Hajjar, chief technology officer, and Amit Jain, president and CEO, I got a close-up look at a display platform whose key selling point is its energy efficiency, but that features several firsts in the industry.

Jain, one of the founders of the company, walked me through the components and processes behind the display. In Prysm’s ISE booth was a 142-inch diagonal wall in a 6x5 configuration (30 separate panels, or tiles, each unit/tile with its own laser light engine). The resolution of the panels was 1.6mm, and it featured 1000 NIT brightness. Depth of units: 1:10 ratio (depth: screen size diagonally). As this was a technology demo, and not a formal product demo, specs are still evolving. Prysm says they will have other models, with various resolutions and brightness levels to choose from, by InfoComm.

LPD displays are based on a laser-scanning, emissive display panel technology that features very low power consumption. The technology really combines elements from three disciplines:

New-generation disc drives, specifically the blue laser technology as used in Blu-ray (the blue laser “writes” to the screen like the blue laser of a Blu-ray player).

Photocopiers. The “lens” in particular. This is not a projection lens, it is more like a photocopier scanning lens, and unlike a projector lens it transmits data (laser beams) in both directions. So the lens/laser light engine can both read and write data.

Phosphor elements of a screen, similar to a CRT screen. The phosphor screen is a patterned (or printed) array of phosphors layered in a rigid and stable structure made of glass or polymer. Essentially, this is an RGB process, an “emissive” display technology like CRT, and Plasma.

To get all these elements to work together, LPD required technology evolution propelled by Blu-ray; the ability to power lasers on and off rapidly enough to create dynamic images at a processing speed necessary to compete with LED, DLP, LCD, and all the big boys; and the ability to not just “write” images with lasers but to fully align the laser beams with each pixel of the phosphor screen permanently.

This last point is crucial. Jain explained: “Key to the design, key to making this a robust technology, is being able to key the laser to the phosphors, with an ‘active’ scanning scheme (as opposed to the passive scanning technology of a CRT television). No one to date has been able to ensure that the laser beam would line up with the right pixel, without large screen sizes getting out of alignment down the road. We do this by being able to receive data back from the laser scan, from the pixel, so that it’s a kind of micro ‘GPS’ if you will that keeps the laser constantly aligned with each pixel.”

But at the heart of the go-to-market message of this platform is energy efficiency. And this is manifest, according to Prysm, in two ways: low power consumption of the unit and a much cooler running temperature than LED or LCD, resulting in a big reduction in air conditioning needs. Typically with high brightness displays, every watt of generated heat needs three watts of AC. But Prysm claims their technology generally needs little or no AC. And both features together, according to Prysm, result in 6-10 times lower power consumption than LED.

One of the key elements of the technology demo in the Prysm booth at ISE was a small LED digital readout on a little wall panel off to the side of the 142-inch diagonal wall. This watt-usage meter showed real-time watt usage of the display wall, and while the amount consumed was low, more impressive was that the watt usage of the display varied according to what content was on the screen. Darker images on the screen needed less power to the unit to display.

Stay tuned for June’s InfoComm in Las Vegas for more details on this new display platform. And, according to Prysm, pricing is being set now for the first March spec sheet rollout.