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more viable. This opens up collaboration usage models that are not possible with surface-mounted diode (SMD) LED.” The technology can also support refresh rates up to 240Hz – ideal for high- motion video and gaming. Since the LEDs are non-organic, unlike OLED displays, microLED pixels are not expected to fade (so-called screen burn) over time. Not only does this mean displays are extremely energy efficient, but they could keep going for 100,000 hours. However, there are a number of critical manufacturing steps that need to be perfected before microLED can be integrated into professional AV at a price that’s affordable to the mass market. These range from the process of growing a thin crystalline layer on a substrate, to chiplet cutting and module board production, as well as TFT backplane manufacturing innovation. “Reducing LEDs to microscopic size and accurately placing millions of them onto the display surface is a compelling challenge,” explains rental company PSCo in its handbook on the technology. “Achieving this while maintaining colour uniformity and eliminating pixel failure is an even larger one. Advances in flip- chip LED technology have enabled the launch of microLED video wall displays light years ahead of poor-performing face- up COB (chip on board) LED displays. “These displays not only reduce pixel size, but also outperform traditional SMD LED displays in a number of key areas, including higher resolutions, increased contrast and reduced viewable distance.” NAMES IN THE GAME Due to high entry barriers, Futuresource believes only a few companies will retain control over the tech. Among the leaders are Samsung, Leyard and Foxconn, who will develop their own supply chains for system-level components. Others include BOE Technology, LG and Sony. Samsung has bet its future as a display vendor on microLED. Already, 77% of all displays in command and control rooms

ON THE UP Market forecasts predict microLED will soon be the dominant display format

are based on LED. According to Samsung, microLED will grow more than 110% over the next four years. “When we can make production cheaper, we will go to the consumer market,” Kim Rasmussen, Samsung’s European command & control business development manager, said at ISE. “It will be the dominant display technology on the market by 2031.” Samsung’s The Wall, which debuted in 2017, is the most famous example. “It represents a defining moment, as we enter a new era of microLED display technologies set to completely reshape the display market as we know it,” said Liam Winter, head of LED at PSCo. Now other vendors are following suit. This year, LG has previewed a 272in microLED 8K display (LG Magnit). Leyard unveiled DirectLight Pro, a 1.2mm pixel pitch microLED display. Leyard also showed a 0.7mm pixel pitch video wall constructed from TX Series microLED. “By 2024-25, the scale of production for microLED will increase and prices will begin to drop,” predicts Romanowitz. That’s important, because right now they are exorbitant. Reports say a microLED 14in TV display costs north of $1m. Futuresource expects this to drop below the $40,000 range by 2026-2027. There’s a side effect to the rise of microLED, too, which could see the

“From manufacturers and suppliers to resellers and end users, we are going to see microLED begin to dominate the

marketplace in the mid to long term”

decades-long dominance of Chinese manufacturers supplanted by those from South Korea and the US. “Several companies are developing the ecosystem enabling the technology, but few will be able to invest the billions of dollars to do that, so the whole pro AV economy will change,” says Romanowitz. MicroLED displays will also be used in consumer applications, from smartwatches and phones, to >100in residential TVs and AR displays. “MicroLED is on a direct path towards the centre of the consumer electronics and professional AV industries,” added Mcintyre-Brown. “From manufacturers, suppliers and brands to resellers, channel partners and end users, we’re going to see microLED begin to dominate the marketplace in the mid to long term.”

PUTTING IT ALL ON LED Samsung’s investment in microLED shows a willingness to gamble on its success


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