LED displays at ISE 2016: chasing the elusive pixel

From the 9th till the 12th of February the world of pro AV centralized in Amsterdam to experience one of the most prominent industry events, the Integrated Systems Europe. With the record number of registered attendees topping 65 000, over 1000 exhibitors on the show floor and the most extensive education programs from CEDIA and InfoComm, the ISE2016 has been officially confirmed as the biggest and best show so far in its 13-year history.

LED display exposition included over hundreds of manufacturers, integrators and resellers showcasing a broad range of the latest visual solutions at their booths. The technologies on display indicated a fierce competition between manufacturers for tighter pixel layouts. With all major players having 1.2mm LED solutions in their lineup the focus slowly shifts to super high pitch displays with a pixel layout below 1mm. Having impressed the public with the eye-catching 8K LED screen at ISE 2015 AOTO headlines the competition with their 0.75mm UHD visual solution available for orders. Coleder goes even further claiming the incredible 0.62mm for their Ace Block LED series.

However, de-facto the tightest pitch presented on operating video systems was the 0.9mm. It was exhibited by , and with the video systems in each case not exceeding two square meters. The 0.9mm pixel pitch was also presented by eyevis in 4K resolution LED wall composed of ePANELs, the NPP series manufactured in cooperation with Unilumin.

SiliconCore Camellia 0.95mm LED display The 0.95mm Camellia LED prototype from SiliconCore revealed all the benefits of the company’s proprietary Common Cathode technology and was recognized as ISE 2016 Best of Show product by Installation Magazine. According to Steve Scorse, the company’s VP of EMEA, the key element for the Camellia product is a small PCB with a new patented 8080 driver chip that enables high pixel density displays to operate at full brightness, full color, and full refresh rates. Scorse also suggested that the company is up to a new display technology that would enable LED displays with the pixel pitches below 0.5mm, e.g. that of the 4k consumer LCDs today.

Most likely the technology referred to is COB (chip-on-board LED), e.g. the alternative method of LED packaging as opposed to T-pack and Surface Mount Technologies. Due to the small size of the LED chip, the technology allows for a much higher packing density resulting in super tight pixel pitches, wider viewing angles up to 180 degrees, as well as higher intensity and greater uniformity. Epoxide coating ensures higher protection from external factors including environmental exposure and physical damage. However, the same coating blocks the access to LEDs disabling the serviceability of an LED tile making it the technology’s major disadvantage.

COP-based solutions were presented by Chinese manufacturers Auroled, Cobtac, and Deepsky. As focuses primarily on NPP indoor solutions, on display were their ACR Series with 1.8mm, and 2.5mm pixel layout. Shenzhen manufacturer Cobtac showcased outdoor video displays with enhanced durability. In particular, they presented a fragment of perimeter LED display that was stated as capable of withstanding the blow of a kicked ball without losing its working capacity.

, a Hong Kong company, presented quite an unusual solution, a COB technology with the virtual pixel. The demonstration piece had a physical pitch of 1.9mm and virtual of 0.9mm and featured a glassy smooth surface with the LEDs placed in trines to form the opposite triangles.

The 1.2mm pixel pitch displays were presented by all major players on large LED canvases with high picture quality and the resolution up to 8K (AOTO, Leyard). Moreover, the 1.2mm becomes the core solution in NPP lineup offered by most of the companies.

LANG AG ISE 2016In particular, the huge video wall of 1.2mm was presented by , who used Leyard LED tiles to compose the stunning 8K visual solution. The seamless canvas of almost 10m wide by 5.4m tall featured impeccable live video and imagery that drew attention due to their spectacular realism. According to Tobias Lang, CEO of LANG-AG, the challenge of 8K video was solved by utilizing a specially developed camera array that allowed stitching three 5k cameras to one image. For its playback, LANG used their own development as well, the media server HMS-1.

The eye-catcher backed the company’s newly launched brand of “LANG LED WORLDS” aimed to reinforce LANG position on LED displays market. 

and showcased their latest visual technology for a variety of growing vertical market segments. Having finalized the merging transaction in December, both companies supplemented each other’s exposition with a broader range of products.

Thus, Leyard products were featured at Planar booth including the 1.2mm video wall product and the 0.9mm pitch technology demonstrator. Presented in a 2560p x 1440p resolution the 0.9mm demonstration piece was exposed over a rotating platform between two concave Leyard TVH LED walls. The featured technology belongs to Leyard’s TW series of fine-pitch LED displays that also includes 1.2mm, 1.4mm, 1.8mm and 2.5mm pixel pitch solutions. Highlighting the product’s features Steve Seminario, Director Product Marketing for Leyard, mentioned its 16:9 flat panel type form factor with a 54” (1.3m) diagonal. The advantage allows for faster installation of large LED surfaces with fewer seams that need to be aligned as well as larger factory calibrated area, explained Seminario.

Likewise, Planar products were exhibited at Leyard’s booth including the company’s line-up of Ultra HD resolution LCD displays available in 75”, 84”, and 98” diagonal and a highly acclaimed 55” transparent OLED display.

Daktronics forced perspective contentDespite the increasing popularity of 1.2mm pixel pitch, the most promising within the NPP segment remains the 1.9mm that many manufacturers put high hopes upon.

In particular, the 1.9mm LED wall was presented by within their new DVX-4000 series. Featuring the brightness of 1400 nits the solution is described as highly energy efficient using half the power of similar competitor offerings. Also, on display at the company’s booth was an eye-catching 3D content designed in line with the latest industry trends in forced perspective or anamorphic content design. The technique, which proved to be highly engaging, created the illusion of a 3D element by utilizing 2D screens from a specific vantage point.  

showcased their latest developments for Rental, Retail and Sports markets. The rental solutions were presented in a combined setup of a large interactive A2 Pro screen (2.97mm) and four X5 cabinets hanging from the top of the booth.

The retail sector was presented by a set of window displays assembled from Absen award-winning N2 product. The model belongs to N series available in a 2.4mm (N2) and 4mm (N4) pitches and a variety of lengths: 1152, 1440 and 864 x 288mm for the N4, and 576 x 288mm for the N2. The solution is completely front installable and front serviceable with a module depth of 54mm to fit in the space-limited retail environments. Among the competitive advantages were also mentioned a “smart module” technique that has all the information stored in the module and a unique diagnostic function.

, the company renowned for their out-of-the-box approach to booth design, presented a unique LED‬ DNA structure made of 4.8-pixel pitch displays. The installation towered over 3.3m high and symbolized the cycling process of technology evolution.

LED‬ DNA structure EKTA ISE 2016. On display were also EKTA’s latest series of signal processing tools, the ERMAC Ultra video controller. The demonstration zone at the company’s booth featured the control system at work by performing the real-time color alignment of dissimilar LED surfaces with different pixel layout.

The main question for all specialists is how to achieve a perfect video surface uniformity. Our proprietary two-level calibration system Uniformity² is a solution. You receive such advantages as camera-free adjustments, automatic color adjustment of LED displays composed of LEDs of different delivery lots or with LEDs of different manufacturers, real-time calibration of clusters after replacement and fast and easy brightness, color alignment”, - explained EKTA`s technical director Andreas Kaiser.

exposition was organized to highlight their most promising product, the InnoPix rental display dubbed as transformer display. The booth featured a crown-shaped model, assembled from the 5.9mm pixel pitch LED modules. The structure was made possible due to the InnoPix module mechanics with a step-by-step adjustment of surface curvature (from -45° to +45°). The patented technology allows for flexible design options while retaining smooth and seamless canvas without distorting pixel layout, the company said.

introduced their newest product, the plug and play AXXION LED tiles for fixed indoor and outdoor installations. Featuring small and lightweight form factor of 320mm x 320mm AXXION is described as a front-serviceable, cloud-based visual solution capable of internet data sharing and real-time service.

Based on our experience of LED displays exposed at ISE 2016 are the following conclusions:

  • A majority of manufacturers are involved in a technological race chasing tighter pixel pitches;
  • A lot of presented middle-end NPP solutions shared the common issues of poor image quality with noticeably low refresh rate, pixelization, lack of color uniformity, etc. This indicates the fact that rise of technologies for manufacturing NPP displays goes ahead of development of control systems capable to provide proper image quality;
  • All major players showcased the 1.2mm pixel pitch on large video surfaces;
  • Larger form factors with the aspect ratio of 16:9 and 16:10 and average size of 610 х 350мм become ubiquitous replacing the obsolete 400 х 300mm;    
  • 4.8mm pixel pitch remains the most in-demand product for outdoor displays; however, with LAMP having revealed the 3.1mm pixel pitch outdoor display the market trend is heading for sub-3mm outdoor solutions;
  • The 2.5mm pixel pitch displays is a mainstream offering for indoor segment;
  • The rental market slowly deviates from the customary 3.9mm pixel pitch solutions and opts for 2.5mm offering;
  • Reliable solutions and full customer maintenance are highly prized as the visiting card of well-esteemed companies. 

As pro AV market continues to evolve, ISE is a ‘must attend’ event to see new and emerging technologies at work. The vibrant halls of Amsterdam RAI once again shared the ambiance of connecting, networking and learning, making our hearts beat faster with future prospects, and inspiring for further achievements.

Tags: Daktronics, EKTA , Planar, Tradeshow, SiliconCore, Leyard, Absen, Artixium, Gtek, AOTO, ISE 2016, LANG AG