EL SEGUNDO, CA – LCD is the dominant display technology for most electronic products; however, there is still a need for emerging display technologies, according to iSuppli Corp.
 
“Alternative technologies are still required because they can overcome some of the disadvantages of LCDs, and have some special capabilities that LCDs cannot match,” said Jennifer Colegrove, senior analyst for display technology and strategy for iSuppli. “These technologies include touchscreen, bi-stable, near-eye, Head-Up Display and miniature projection displays.”
 
Global shipment revenue for the leading touchscreen technologies will rise to $4.4 billion by 2012, up 45% from 2006, iSuppli predicts.
 
Shipments of bi-stable displays, i.e., electronic displays capable of presenting an image without using power, are expected to reach 350 million units by 2012, up from a mere 29 million units in 2007.
 
Near-eye display revenue is expected to grow to $724 million by 2012, rising 71% from 2007.
 
The global HUD module market is expected to reach $107 million in revenue by 2012, up nearly 76% from 2006.
 
Demand for touchscreen displays is being driven primarily by the cellphone and consumer-electronics industries—specifically portable game consoles, PDAs and PNDs, says iSuppli. However, as the market matures, the firm believes touchscreen displays will find a role in nearly every aspect of life, from planes, to automobiles, to machine-control systems, to home appliances.
 
After many years of uncertainty, a real market is beginning to take shape for bi-stable displays. Demand is rising for this technology as companies try to limit the power consumption of portable devices and always-on signage, according to the researcher.
 
Bi-stable displays’ capability to sustain images without electricity also makes them well suited for smart cards, removable flash storage devices and e-book/e-paper, says iSuppli. Other applications include electronic shelf labels, point of purchase/point of sale and cellphones.
 
Consumers love tiny handheld electronic devices, but don’t love diminutive displays. Because of this, makers of handhelds – including PMPs, DVD players and mobile TVs –hope to improve the viewing experience by offering products with pocket/embedded projectors and near-eye displays, also called head-mounted displays, says iSuppli.
As its name suggests, the near-eye display is designed to be placed on a helmet or visor close to the user’s eye, providing a virtual image that is larger than the physical dimensions of the display. HMDs can display a virtual image ranging in size from 20" to 100".
 
The pocket projector market is growing because of the demand for portable presentation equipment. Travelers prefer pocket projectors because they allow them to deliver presentations to small groups of people at any time, in any place, says iSuppli.
 
Commercially available pocket projectors mostly weigh between 1 and 2 lbs.; a pocket projector weighing less than 1 lb. is set to come to the market this quarter, according to the researcher.
 
Head-up displays enhance safety by keeping drivers’ eyes on the road. Currently, there are many vehicle manufacturers offering HUDs, including General Motors and BMW. The global HUD module market is expected to reach $107 million in revenue by 2012, up 76% from 2006.
 
There are big growth opportunities for miniature projectors. And with the rear-projection television market losing momentum, microdisplay manufacturers should view this market as an opportunity for growth, concludes iSuppli.
GLEN ALLEN, VA – The rise of thin-film, organic and printable electronics, and the trend toward endowing objects with as much electronic intelligence as possible with the goal of creating environments that enhance comfort, productivity and entertainment value, will create major business opportunities in the next few years, says research firm NanoMarkets.

The variety of names used for the second trend cover up the fact that there is nothing new about enhancing objects electronically, NanoMarkets says; inexpensive electronics have been used for decades in such applications as magnetic strips on credit cards and tickets, lights and audio effects for inexpensive toys and novelties, and certain security tags.

The latest developments in TOP electronics enable embedded electronics of this kind to move to the next level of complexity, the researcher notes. Thanks to TOP electronics, the magnetic credit card can be transfigured into a thin, wallet-size smartcard with its own display and an onboard printed processor, says the firm.

One of the major implications is that this intelligence can be in objects easily discarded with few consequences; hence the term disposable electronics. These products hold little essential value, so that disposing of them is not an issue. You may keep your credit card for several years, but cutting it up when it expires is not a big deal, NanoMarkets says.

Disposable electronics is characterized by high-cost sensitivity to materials, fabrication and components, and the need to create electronic functionality in products not especially durable.

TOP electronics addresses this by permitting creation of moderately complex electronics using printing/solution processing. Such fabrication processes are less expensive than the conventional deposition and patterning technologies. The direction of TOP electronics is toward fabrication on inexpensive flexible substrates, especially paper and plastic, says NanoMarkets.

Such substrates will facilitate the use of R2R fabrication and addresses the need to create electronics on paper/plastic substrates. Therefore, TOP electronics and disposable electronics go well together, says the research firm.

While TOP electronics could prove a key enabler for disposable electronics, it also presents challenges. Creating electronics on plastic and paper has yet to be perfected, for one. The printing technologies most widely used today for printed electronics - screen and inkjet - may not be easily scalable to high-volume production. And some of the materials used for printed and organic electronics may be expensive; silver is widely used and gold is common in R&D, explains NanoMarkets.

Printed electronics could reduce item-level RFID tags to just a few pennies, making wide-scale tagging possible. However, registration and resolution in high-speed printing may not be good enough; optimal materials have yet to be determined; inline printing along with graphics has not been established, and the result of competition with conventional chips created in depreciated fabs has not been determined. 

With regard to other smart packaging, opportunities include the addition of sensors and displays to show the condition of products in the package and how often the package has been opened, etc. Brand enhancement and advertising using electronics features are also possible. However, value is limited to niche applications and volume opportunity may be limited.

Low-cost, updateable pricing labels based on e-paper technology can be created for point-of-presence displays. These can improve retail efficiency and be operated under low power; volume potential is large. However, this concept is not well established, and printed/thin-film batteries are currently expensive. Also, e-paper does not offer color, although it soon will, NanoMarkets says.

On smartcards, electrochromic/e-paper displays can be added for additional security and other features. Printable transistors and memories may ultimately prove less costly than conventional chips. The small form factor of printable/thin-film batteries may make this kind of battery highly suitable in this application, and there is a large volume opportunity.

Although, not many TOP electronics companies focus on this opportunity at present, and organic/printed chips vs. conventional silicon is even less a settled issue than RFID. Powered chips are only just beginning to appear. Also, the high-temperature lamination may damage delicate organic transistors, says the researcher.

With this technology, features could be added to existing games/toys or could be used to create new ones. However, games and toys are notoriously subject to market failures, and volumes may be quite small, NanoMarkets says.

Finally, there is considerable potential for electronic enhancement of medical products through innovations such as smart bandages, low-cost diagnostic products and patches. But, the product approval process is much more difficult than in any other area. Few TOP electronics firms are looking at this area yet.
 
ATLANTA UP Media Group Inc., parent company of Circuits Assembly and Printed Circuit Design & Fab, announced today that online registration for Virtual PCB, the industry's first virtual trade show and conference for the PCB design, fabrication and assembly markets, will open on Dec. 7.

Read more: Virtual PCB Registration to Open Dec. 7
VANCOUVER – Dr. Shigeo Shingo, credited with codeveloping TPS, also known as Lean, has published a new book called Kaizen and the Art of Creative Thinking.
 
In the book, Dr. Shingo reveals how he taught Toyota and other Japanese companies the art of identifying and solving problems.
 
Six models – the scientific thinking mechanism – are presented. These frameworks permit groups to deconstruct problems and rebuild them into improvement ideas. This concept is said to provide the foundation for any Lean initiative.
 
Dr. Shingo co-created the Lean concepts with Taiichi Ohno in the 1940s and 1950s while working at the Amano Manufacturing Plant in Yokohama, Japan.
 
To download a chapter of the book, visit http://www.superfactory.com/articles/Bodek_Kaizen_Creative_Excerpt.htm
 
The book is available at www.enna.com
 
MUNICH – The final tally is in, and the numbers reveal Productronica as – still – the world’s largest electronics manufacturing trade show. Some 1,484 exhibitors from 35 countries attended last week’s show.
  Read more: Productronica: Still King of Shows
SAN JOSE, CA – North American-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $1.23 billion in orders in October and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.83, according to SEMI.

Read more: North American Semi Gear Posts October Book-to-Bill of 0.83

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