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July 2nd, 2009

At the annual Display Week 2009, a significant number of exhibitors, speakers and participants discussed myriad efforts to encourage greener manufacturing of more energy-efficient display technologies. “Sustainability,” “energy-efficient” and “Earth-friendly” are not new terms, but they are getting a great deal more attention now.

As far as leading market research company DisplaySearch is concerned, this new interest is already driving the advancement of new technologies that will decrease environmental impact, increase sustainability and help firms go from “lean and mean” to “lean and green.” In 2008, some 20% of flat-panel display (FPD) units had “green” features, and this is expected to rise to as high as 70% by the end of 2012. It is also suggested that “green technology” will be standard issue for most LCD displays and monitors in 2014. CRE rents lower-power LCDs today, and when the new technologies start appearing in new models, we’ll have those available to rent, too.

From buzzwords to real specs

Among the R&D efforts currently underway are various approaches to developing new and better materials, light sources and system designs, as well as optimizing manufacturing. The broad aim is to reduce production waste, eliminate toxic processes and materials, lower energy consumption, conserve natural resources—and get the message out.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of “The Greening of LCD Displays”:

3M’s Vikuiti “reflective polarizers” have been shown to increase LCD panels’ energy efficiency an average of 30% by recycling light through the backlight.

The industry’s first glass substrates for LCD panels without added heavy metals or halides, Corning‘s Eagle XG units provide additional opportunities for an LCD display to be green its entire life—before, during and after use. Removing potentially harmful heavy metals makes a device recyclable at the end of its useful life.

LG Display showcased an eco-friendly line of products designed with fewer components to consume less power, from trendsetting plasma displays (CRE has plasmas for rent, too) Plasma Rental - ComputerRentals to its leading line of LCD panels. The company demonstrated a 32-inch LCD TV with the world’s lowest power consumption. By adding a white pixel to the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) array, and recalibrating the Optimal Power Control (OPC) system, the model cut its power requirement by 56 percent. In addition to this “White Plus” technology in several products, the company also showed “the greenest 47-inch LCD TV” ever—no arsenic or halogen in mechanical parts, no PCBs anywhere.

Microsemi has pioneered several energy-saving technologies for its line of backlighting, color management and sensor products. The products enable all kinds of LED backlight systems to offer top performance in eco-friendly, economical ways. Applications include LCD TVs, netbook and notebook computers, vehicle dashboard instruments and many other display applications. The backlit touchscreens, such as on the Motion Computing tablet PC that CRE rents, are reckoned to be a huge emerging market for Microsemi’s cost-cutting approach.

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies’ “mirasol” display technology is a nature-inspired, eco-positive design based on its IMOD (Interferometric MODulation) technology. It consumes dramatically less power than competing technologies, meaning devices will run longer on fewer, smaller, lighter, cheaper batteries—just as the laptop rentals from CRE run two to three times longer between charges than the average laptop of 2004. The energy-efficiency of the mirasol display derives from its use of reflective light, rather than backlighting, mimicking the way the human eye actually prefers to see. In a classic, well, display of “tech evangelism” numerous pundits are predicting that very soon, mobile devices will

  • have clearer displays,
  • last longer between charges,
  • double their batteries’ lifespans,
  • require fewer replacements,
  • not contribute toxic Li-ion batteries to landfills and, overall,
  • save a boatload of money and energy for everybody.

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