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Display technologies for Internet of Things



Intelligent technologies based on the Internet connection are constantly developing. They are also more and more present in various areas of our lives. Devices that interact with each other and operate within the Internet of Things (or “IoT”) are particularly noteworthy. There were over 21 billion such pieces of electronic equipment in the world in 2021. And for sure, this number has been predicted in the forecasts... for the year 2025. This means that the IoT market is growing at a much faster pace than it was assumed until recently.

Every year the number of Internet of Things solutions is growing. They appear in various places and industries - from flats, offices and public spaces, equipment used in industry and medicine, to logistics, retail, or even agriculture. All of the IoT applications are connected to the Internet. The vast majority of them are equipped with an appropriate screen. Today we will answer the question which display technology should be chosen to ensure the highest quality of the final product while optimizing costs?

Take your pick

There are multiple types of screens to choose from when it comes to implementing in a given device. However, the number of choices can be overwhelming. The solution selection should be based on the final product installation environment – operating temperatures, power consumption, or even its dimensions. Smartwatches, security systems, household appliances, industrial equipment such as dedicated washing machines, pumps, trolleys, or even entire ships and airplanes – in each of the mentioned above, the possibilities of using the selected technology are different. There are no completely universal solutions, though. Some types of displays will be an obvious choice for chosen projects – the most commonly used screens are LCD TFT, OLED, and EPD (e-paper) modules. In the case of other, more unusual implementations, the available options should be consulted with a team of specialists first.

TFT LCD – true versatility

LCD TFT technology has many benefits. The quick response time of these displays, combined with the creation of sharp, colorful, dynamic images, makes them perfect for consumer applications that focus primarily on multimedia solutions. Thanks to the default built-in backlight, they can be used in more demanding applications, where the possibility of installing an additional light source is limited. They will also work great in more shaded areas. LCDs are also essential parts of home appliances or wall-mounted smart home systems.

The most significant disadvantage of this technology is the amount of energy it consumes. Due to their construction, TFT LCD panels are the least energy-saving solutions from all of the presented ones. Such display requires a constant power supply or frequent charging of the device with which they are integrated. The use of such a display in a place with high sunlight concentration also requires the installation of a stronger backlight, so that the reflected light has a lower value than the light emitted by the screen itself. This can negatively affect the display’s thickness and increase the device’s energy consumption, thus the operating costs.

OLED – high contrast, damage resistance, and energy efficiency

OLED displays are often used in a significant number of applications thanks to their design advantages. They have higher, almost infinite contrast, faster response time, full viewing angles, greater resistance to extreme temperatures, and lower energy consumption than their counterparts in other technologies. This works especially well for images with black backgrounds and bright elements. In OLED solutions, each pixel is a separate light source, which translates not just into energy efficiency. True black is obtained by turning off selected pixels – this is almost impossible with modules of other types. Thanks to the nature of OLED displays, they also do not need an additional backlight. This improves the economy of use, general efficiency, and significantly reduces the thickness of the end device. OLED technology also allows to create flexible displays that are easier to fit into a given housing – they can often be found in e.g., smartphones and smartwatches. However, these types of solutions are still relatively expensive.

E-paper – technological (r)evolution

IoT applications are frequently powered by batteries - energy efficiency is a crucial aspect when selecting individual components for some devices. E-paper technology (Electronic Paper Display, EPD) is an excellent low power consumption solution in such a case. It requires just a tiny amount of energy and only when the image on the screen needs to be changed. Presented content can resemble printing in an almost indistinguishable way. E-paper also has unlimited viewing angles and perfect readability in direct sunlight. This means it will be ideal wherever energy efficiency is essential, and the need to change or refresh the screen content is relatively rare. It applies to the consumer market (e-readers, smartwatches), industrial applications (e-prices, e-badges, intelligent time registration systems), digital signage sector (timetables at bus stops), or even as a decorative element. However, in the case of e-paper, appropriate content presentation in limited lighting conditions will only be possible with access to an external light source. EPD is attractive, although the most expensive of the described technologies.

Inorganic diodes and quantum dots        

The solutions discussed so far are not the only technologies that will work well in displays for IoT. One should not forget about the constantly emerging innovations - the Micro Led and QD-OLED screens are especially noteworthy.

The first ones resemble OLEDs in the way how they operate. The LEDs that make up the display shine by themselves. Each diode can also be appropriately dimmed if necessary. This allows achieving true black and high contrasts. However, the Micro LED matrix consists of tens of millions of microscopic inorganic diodes – therefore, the risk of burn-ins is eliminated significantly. This technology allows the creation of solutions with non-standard dimensions, and the area of ​​Micro LED displays can be divided into parts. Such modules are characterized by a very high brightness level, unattainable for OLEDs, wide viewing angles, and high energy efficiency.

QD-LED is an abbreviation for Quantum Dot-Based Light Emitting Diodes - the panels have a layer of quantum nanodots. They are small semiconductor particles that turn the blue light from the LEDs illuminating the screen into a colored one. This combination allows you to achieve exceptional quality of displayed colors and has a positive effect on the brightness of the matrix.

Specialist support

Unisystem's offer includes displays for IoT applications and devices that are closely connected to them, e.g. motherboards and entire industrial computers. A wide range of available solutions allows us to select the most optimal ones for a client. Our cooperation with the manufacturer always includes substantive support at every stage of the project – our suggestions are always based on a particular specification. Contact us if you need any support in implementing your project.