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New research set to deliver highly readable displays thanks to LED backlighting

01 June 2009

A new research and development project named ENDVIEW supported by the UK Technology Strategy Board will deliver information displays with enhanced readability in bright lighting conditions. The displays are intended for use in applications where clear unambiguous interpretation of information is vital. Safety-critical examples of such applications include radar screens, displays presenting camera information to surgeons involved in keyhole surgery and safety warning signs with variable messages. Other applications include screen displays on ATMs (automated cash dispensers) which are often sited in external locations and screens relaying close-up action at outdoor entertainment and sporting events.

The research programme will deliver enhanced clarity of static and dynamic images through the application of high performance LED arrays and novel optics systems.

Most display users currently accept that the viewability is dependent on the environment. On portable equipment the viewability can often be altered by shielding the display or by moving out of a high brightness ambient. However, there are many situations where the equipment position is fixed and the display must still be viewable in variable lighting environments.

Most manufacturers of equipment which incorporates a display wish to purchase a suitable commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product. However, current COTS displays have unsatisfactory readability in some conditions.

The new research programme will have a multi-disciplinary approach involving human factors studies, metrology and modelling.

The human factors studies will be carried out by the University of Abertay Dundee, which has an established track record in the development of usability metrics for the readability of displays, most recently through the ENDSENSE project.

The metrology aspect will be covered by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) with its state-of-the-art display measurement laboratory containing equipment to measure displays in a range of lighting conditions.

Multi-physics modelling for optical and thermal design of the display and its relation to readability will be undertaken by the University of Greenwich.

Building on this foundation of scientific research, the end-user target requirements will be expressed through the definition of a common end-user specification and demonstrator test vehicle by GE Aviation Systems – Newmarket and Raymarine.

The tasks of developing coating, LED backlighting and optical guiding solutions to improve the readability of static and dynamic images will be undertaken by custom ruggedised display and LED backlight manufacturer GE Aviation Systems - Newmarket, Thin Film Solutions (a company specialising in optical coatings) and Design LED Products (a company specialising in optical guiding based on LED arrays). The ENDVIEW project is being led by GE Aviation Systems – Newmarket.

In addition to the readability requirements the research will also address minimisation of power consumption and thermal management. Power consumption is particularly important for battery-operated displays and thermal management for applications where the displays are mounted.

The fundamental knowledge gained through the human factors studies, modelling and measurement will be disseminated through events organised with the UK Knowledge Transfer Networks and through NPL input into generating end-user guides and standards.

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