Confabs show off latest in display technologies

by Hiroko Nakata

As demand for touch-screen displays grows thanks to hot-selling gadgets like Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Nintendo Co.’s DS game consoles, the technologies for them are advancing to the point that just clicking and opening files will soon be mundane.

The latest trends and technologies driving touch-panel displays are being showcased at the First International Touch Panel Expo, the Fifth International FPD Expo, and two other conventions that kicked off Wednesday at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward.

The four exhibitions, which run until Friday, are expected to draw 60,000 visitors, according to organizer Reed Exhibitions Japan.

Global shipments of touch panels are expected to more than quadruple to $5.2 billion in 2015 from $1.2 billion in 2007, according to U.S. market researcher Displaysearch LLC.

“There is expected to be strong demand not only in the gaming industry, but also for tools for education, advertisement and many other areas,” a Reed Exhibitions official said.

A touch screen is a display that can sense and respond to direct physical contact with a finger, hand, stylus or other implement.

Japanese touch-screen maker EIT Co. has a touch panel featuring XYFer Technology, which can track more than one finger at once, using infrared sensors.

This allows people to move images around or manipulate them simply by using their fingers. For example, an image can be made to widen or shrink by opening or closing two fingers while maintaining contact with the display. Using three and more fingers allows people to rotate the image.

The panel can be installed in liquid crystal, plasma and other displays and is expected to let people express themselves in new, more useful ways.

“There is strong demand for our large panels at schools, where teachers use them as white boards,” said Satoshi Kobayashi, an EIT representative. “They are also used for information boards at facilities, such as museums and exhibitions.”

Other orders are coming from research institutes and public transportation companies, including railroads and airports, he said.

The biggest panel EIT produces is a 250-inch screen that is being used by a university in Japan, he said.

Next to the touch-panel expo, Sony Corp. was displaying a state-of-the-art 0.3-mm organic EL display. Although a prototype, the technology proves that the whisper-thin OLED displays can render colors vividly, Sony said.