Samsung’s recent rollout of a gigantic wall-sized TV has created a huge buzz in the digital display sector. The 146-inch microLED screen is the first brand-new display technology to be commercialized in more than a decade. Whether it was worth the wait remains to be seen, but the subject of microLED technology is currently on everyone’s lips.
According to Research and Markets, the microLED display market is set to expand from $600 million in 2019 to $20.5 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 80.1 percent between 2019 and 2025. The explosive demand will likely generate from the ever-increasing desire for brighter and more power-efficient display panels for multiple devices. The technology is not just for TV’s; these new screens are predicted to transform smartwatches, mobile devices, and NTE (AR/VR) devices.
But what exactly is micro-LED and how is it different from previous display technology? Micro LED and the currently popular OLED are similar in that they both composed of small, light-emitting diodes. Unlike LCD, however, in LED, each sub-pixel produces its own light without relying on a back light. microLED, then, is composed of millions of micro (tiny) LEDs, or in simplest terms, it is created from significantly smaller versions of current LCD screens, with the LEDs measuring smaller than 100 µm—less than the width of a human hair.
However, the process is more complex than it sounds. In addition to reducing the LED size, the technology requires a reduction in pitch size as well. Pitch is the distance between pixels, and pixels are the elements that unify to create an image. Reducing pitch size becomes tricky, considering that the size of surrounding circuitry can only remain functional at a reasonably larger size than these tiny LEDs allow for. That complexity and other challenges, including cost, are some of the reasons for the 10-year wait for this technology.
Samsung is definitely a forerunner in utilizing these advances for their products. It’s newest brainchild, the giant TV known affectionately as “The Wall,” has people talking and many dreaming of hosting a Super Bowl party to beat all Super Bowl parties. But Samsung is not the only company to capitalize on this innovation. Apple and Sony have demonstrated their rising interest in microLED display technology as well.
Technology & market analyst for Yole Development, Zine Bouhamri, argues that Apple will likely lead the way in incorporating microLED on the mobile devices front. Bouhamri told microled-info.com, “Apple’s portfolio is one of the most complete, comprehensively covering all critical technologies pertinent to microLEDs.” And as previously explained, there are plenty of complex technological components to manage before a company can deliver.
Other markets that will be impacted are digital signage, AR/VR and wearable devices to name just a few. With the complexities of creating microLED and the challenges of keeping costs down, which company will find solutions first and come out on top are issues that the analysts will be watching carefully in the coming months. In tandem, consumers will be watching also, with images continuing to become brighter, crisper, and more life-like right before our eyes.
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