What does the future hold for displays? Stefan Sommer, Director of Marketing & Business Management Europe at MMD, which exclusively markets and sells Philips branded LCD displays worldwide, looks at recent developments.
What for you are the key trends we are likely to see in displays over the next few years?
Stefan Sommer: Digital media platforms – PCs, notebooks, smartphones and the like – are converging and mobile connectivity is growing in importance. Increasingly, the display will act as a platform for streaming content from a range of devices – everything from mobile phones to set-top boxes and PCs – while also serving as an interface for ‘smart home’ control centres. This is generating demand from both B2B and B2C markets for bigger screens and better quality resolution and brilliant colour.
Take display sizes, for example. A couple of years ago, sizes above 27 inches used to qualify as expansive, but demand is now growing in this size range and above, as users come to appreciate the greater sense of space. Users are keen to go higher in resolution too; 4K will extend well into the mainstream in the next few years and professional users will move to even finer resolutions. The first 8K displays are already on the horizon.
Exciting developments are underway in colour as well. Along with Quantum Dot colour technology, MMD is pushing ahead with UltraWide Color across the entire range, bringing a broader gamut within reach of all our users. I expect a colour gamut of >85% NTSC to be standard soon, as opposed to 72% now.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) technology is another innovative feature we will see in more displays. This expands the range of contrast and colour so that images seem to have more depth – great news for video, graphics and entertainment apps. Later this year, we will launch a product line dedicated to entertainment, which will include HDR.
How do you see the future of virtual reality devices? Will they replace monitors or coexist alongside them?
Stefan Sommer: VR is already gaining traction in professional fields such as architecture and design, medicine and geoscience. What’s holding it back in the home user sector – which is where the big growth will be – is the lack of great content. Performance is also an issue: any artificiality or slight judder in image rendering is a stumbling block to wider adoption.
Ultimately, we are likely to see a trickle-down effect from the high-end professional sectors. As soon as the technology is advanced and affordable, with great content to attract users, VR will take off.
As VR is essentially just another display format, I do not expect it to replace conventional displays. The two types will coexist, because of their very different applications – it is still easier to collaborate in front of a display than through VR!
How do you expect the monitor market to change over the coming years?
Stefan Sommer: We expect the market to evolve in a few directions. What we have seen with curved displays so far is just the start and over the next few years, we expect this market to pick up pace and become more established in the mainstream. Displays are likely to become more specialised, with highly specific features designed for a particular target group e.g. high res 21:9 format displays for banking and finance professionals. Alongside this trend, today’s high-end features will enter the mainstream, bringing near-professional quality to users in the B2C sector.
As mobile connectivity grows in importance, Easy USB docking makes it quick and easy for users to attach their preferred device. MMD is already a leading provider of USB Docking monitors and will further enlarge this segment.
These connectivity features will be even more important in the B2B sector, where we also see opportunities for smart features to make offices more efficient. Philips displays with a Power Sensor, for example, can sense when someone is at their desk and automatically turn off when no one is present.
With hackers becoming ever more inventive, privacy and security are becoming more important. Recognising the potential risk exposure through webcams, MMD was first to launch a monitor with a pop-up webcam. With a stream of innovative products like this emerging from our labs, we are prepared for any market developments.