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SPIE O+P 2018: LG executive hails OLED as the display of the future

22 Aug 2018

Marketing chief Sang Deog Yeo dazzles San Diego audience with promises of super-sized lightweight TVs and rollable, foldable screens.

by Ford Burkhart in San Diego
A top LG Display executive left his SPIE Optics + Photonics symposium audience in no doubt that the company’s organic light-emitting diode (OLED) product line aims to conquer and hold the global marketplace for video screens.

Sang Deog “Eddie” Yeo, chief marketing officer at the Korean consumer electronics firm, gave a rousing talk at the San Diego event - actually a narration to a splashy LG video worthy of one of its billboard-size giant screens with 33 million sub-pixels.

His address, opening a plenary session for the “organic photonics and electronics” conference track, highlighted a dazzling set of new products that LG believes will out-perform those of its rivals, pushing aside LCDs and the rest.

For emphasis, Yeo showed clips of the company’s giant OLED videowall in Dubai Mall, featuring no fewer than 820 55-inch panels. The 14-meter-high screen is rated by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest anywhere, with the highest resolution.

Switching focus from size to portability, Yeo said that “LG Wallpaper” is his favorite new product. Featuring a large (77 inch) but almost paper-thin screen, it can be fixed onto a wall with a magnetic backing, and easily moved elsewhere in the home.

Rollable, foldable screens
Of all today’s leading data-driven technologies - big data, 5G, autonomous vehicles, robots, AI, Yeo said that the most important is the display. “Displays will be part of everyday life,” he told the San Diego Conference Center gathering.

With no requirement for a backlight unit, only OLED can deliver perfect black, Yeo added, thus providing three-dimensional effects and delivering vivid and accurate color fidelity with high contrast.

OLED also offers the widest viewing angles, of up to 100 degrees, with no loss of picture quality. And in the near future, Yeo teased, OLED screens will be rollable and fully foldable, “with an extremely small folding radius, and bidirectional folding.”

Foldable OLED products, also in development at Samsung, could be tucked away when not in use, and used in a variety of formats.

Such introductions would corroborate recent commentary from the CEO of key OLED materials developer Universal Display, Seth Abramson. He told an investor conference call that next year would be “pivotal” for the OLED industry as LG and others begin ramping production on new manufacturing lines. Until now, Samsung’s display unit has dominated the industry for smart phone applications, although LG has emerged as the leader in the smaller-volume TV sector.

Production ramp in China
Yeo said that LG is also working toward displays for automobile windshields and side windows, while another new feature would see an OLED screen turned into an image of hi-fi speakers to provide an “immersive” sound experience that the marketing chief has dubbed CSO, for “Crystal Sound OLED.”

On the production side, LG’s OLED displays unit is headquartered in Paju, Korea, with 20,000 workers. But next year the company will add a manufacturing site employing 1500 in Guangzhou, China, targeting an OLED TV market that LG expects to balloon from around 2.8 million units this year, to 10 million units in 2021.

Just last week, LG Display announced that it had sold 1.3 million large-sized OLED TVs in the first half of this year - up from 0.6 million in the first half of 2017, and indicative of the extent to which it dominates the market.

As well as extolling the technological virtues of OLEDs, Yeo pointed out some lingering limitations, admitting the need for higher luminance and a wider color gamut. “We are working on material with a longer lifetime, [and] with improvement of oxide TFT mobility,” he said.

But the technology has come an awfully long way in just a decade, when the very first OLED TV measured just 11 inches. “What we have achieved,” Yeo concluded, “is simply unbelievable. It was very difficult.”

About the Author

Ford Burkhart is a writer based in Tucson, Arizona.

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