Electronic systems are now being defined by the display. When designing wearable devices, for example, designers start with the desired form-factor (often a wrist watch style device) and create the system around that. If they can’t source a display of the appropriate size, shape and performance, they can’t deliver the system. Thus the display, rather than the processor, has become the first consideration in many new designs.
Major consumer OEMs can have a display manufactured to their precise specifications. This puts lower volume industrial and consumer electronics manufacturers at a disadvantage. If they can’t order tens or hundreds of thousands of units at a time, they have to build their products around standard products, and risk being left in the lurch if they are withdrawn.
For markets like wearables the compromises that this approach entails are unlikely to be acceptable. This is by definition a highly style conscious market, and most customers will be want to specify the exact size rather than use an off-the-shelf standard product. Most wearables are worn on the wrist at the moment, which implies a small round display. Few manufacturers are even offering a standard circular product in volumes accessible to the industrial market at the moment, but we have already partnered with Guangdong based display module specialist Truly Semiconductor, to offer bespoke round touch screens with affordable NRE and tooling cost structures for lower volume applications.
Sourcing issues aren’t restricted to non-standard shapes. Even regular sizes can become hard to obtain if manufacturers switch production to reflect volume demand patterns.For example, a number of companies have either discontinued or applied large MOQs 2.8” diagonal QVGA TFT panels. This leaves customers facing an unpalatable choice between committing to taking a large stock with the associated cash flow implications or redesigning their product. Using its close relationships with key suppliers, we responded by negotiating an agreement with its suppliers under which it can continue to supply the market with minimum order quantities of just 1000 pieces. Only a strong specialist has the vendor relationships to be able to accomplish this.
For more information about how display define electronic design today we invite you to read this article published in Electronics Weekly by our Display and Input Technology Manager, Mike Logan.