How 2020 Has Changed the Technology Landscape
As the world ushers out 2020, Radiant takes a look at how the unusual events of this year have reshaped the landscape of the consumer electronics, display, and lighting industries. Some of the notable shifts this year include:
- Digital adoption through the roof – The pandemic drove a boom in adoption of digital platforms and online channels—from daily Zoom meetings to moving large conferences and expo events to an all-virtual format. The crisis has pushed adoption ahead of where it would have been by as much as seven years.1 Many businesses moved quickly to adapt, surprising skeptics with their ability to stay nimble and implement new solutions. A raft of new virtual and connected products is also emerging in response to changing work, school, and home technology use.
- Augmented reality on the rise – With shoppers staying out of brick-and-mortar stores, retailers were among several industries that stepped up their adoption of augmented reality (AR). Between January and June, the number of retailers investing in the technology rose from just 8% to 20%.2 Meanwhile, industries ranging from entertainment to government service agencies (such as law enforcement and first responders) have been finding AR technology is useful for remote engagement, collaboration, and training.3
- UVC light took center stage – The disinfecting properties of UV-C light have been known for a while, and were already in use in settings such as public transit, medical settings, and for laboratory equipment. But this application took on new importance for its potential to kill the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. Testing continues to understand the full capabilities of UV-C.
A UV-C bacteria-cleaning robot designed for hosiptal use. (Image: Infectio Prevention Technologies, Source)
- Accelerating the decline of LCD – Demand for LCD display technology was already waning, with sales volumes falling slowly since 2017.4 But the pandemic has hastened the industry shift away from LCD, with many aging fabrication facilities shuttered and a wave of consolidation reducing global production capacity. For example, shipments of small- to mid-size TFT LCD panels dropped more than 19% in 2020.5 Demand is expected to rebound slightly in 2021, but the industry shift to AMOLED panel technology is well underway.
Despite unprecedented challenges, 2020 also saw some remarkable innovation and creativity, and the arrival of long-anticipated technologies on the market. Just a few examples:
- Printed displays – New manufacturing processes are allowing display panels—primarily OLED—to be fabricated on a variety of substrates at a lower cost than traditional disposition methods. With the opening of JOLED’s production facility in November 2019, 2020 was the year that inkjet printed display panels first became available on the market. This technique produces displays that are ultra-thin, lightweight, energy efficient, and offer a high-quality display experience. Learn more…
- Autonomous vehicles – Development and testing of self-driving cars continues on pace. For example, China’s Baidu began testing driverless taxis this year, with 52 roads opened up in the city of Haidian so driverless cars could begin testing in anticipation of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.6 Robo-taxis and shuttles—which rely on various types of sensing systems such as lidar and radar to “see” their environment—are viewed by industry experts as the application that will bring autonomous driving technology into the mainstream.7
A Baidu self-driving taxi on the road in China.
- Foldable smart phones – as we discussed in a recent blog post, foldable displays are finally on the market, with more to come in 2021.
- Electronic device temperature control – researchers at the Virginia School Engineering have developed a new mechanism that can control the temperature of semiconducting materials. The breakthrough, called “ballistic thermal injection,” could extend the lifetime of electronic and photonic devices such as sensors, smartphones, and transistors. Learn more…
What Hasn’t Changed: Quality
Manufacturers and product developers have had to pivot to adjust to this dynamic marketplace. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for rigorous quality in both product R&D and on the production line. Radiant has adapted our business and operations throughout 2020 to continue offering our global customers the innovative, accurate, and cost-effective solutions they need for automated visual inspection and light and color measurement.
Resting on the foundation of our high-resolution, low-noise ProMetric® Imaging Photometers and Colorimeters, we continue to lead the industry with our display metrology and light measurement solutions. Our engineers have pressed forward with new solutions to meet emerging needs such as 3D near-infrared (NIR) sensing, surface inspection, and pixel uniformity correction (PUC, also called demura) for pixel-dense emissive displays such as OLED and microLED.
The ProMetric I Imaging Colorimeter (left) and the ProMetric Y Imaging Photometer (right).
At Radiant, we look forward to tackling new light and color measurement challenges and developing effective solutions to meet our customers’ needs in 2021 and beyond.
Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!
- How COVID-19 has pushed companies over the technology tipping point—and transformed business forever, McKinsey & Company Survey, October 2020.
- Williamson, D., “The Pandemic is Accelerating AR Adoption for Retailers and Entertainers”, eMarketer Insider Intelligence, September 9, 2020.
- Castro, D., “COVID-19 Could Accelerate Government Adoption of AR, VR Tech”, Government Technology, July/August 2020.
- Yang, J., “Global small-to-mid-size LCD panel shipments to stay steady in 2020-2025, says Digitimes Research”, DigiTimes, October 8, 2020.
- Dickson, G., “COVID-19 Hastens a Structural Shift in the LDC Market”, Information Display, May 22, 2020, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/msid.1108
- Pittock, D., “2020 Year in Review: The Tech News That Kept Us Distracted, Excited, and Slightly Confused”, The Beijinger, December 16, 2020
- The Future of Mobility is at Our Doorstep, Compendium 2019/2020, McKinsey & Company Report