The bigger picture

A UK display technology specialist is to build a production prototype of an ‘unlimited size’ video screen.

Screen Technology plans to use its custom-developed optical system, called ITrans, to produce screens for use in applications such as giant advertising displays and wall-sized TVs.

The Cambridge company has just received £750,000 in funding from the DTI to build a pilot manufacturing line and production-quality prototype display.

Screen Technology developed ITrans in an effort to allow existing display systems such as LCDs to be scaled up to what it claimed can be ‘essentially unlimited size’ while maintaining image quality and the ability to be manufactured in volume at a commercially viable cost.

The company said ITrans displays will be cheaper than screens built using Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and bigger and brighter than equivalent plasma display panels.

ITrans is a modular system that allows displays to be built section by section without any visible overlap using a technique the company calls ‘seamless tiling’.

Each tile comprises a standard LCD panel linked to an ITrans array – a series of optical elements that allows the image on each tile to be magnified so that it is slightly larger than the frame surrounding it.

The expanded images created by each array meet on a main front screen, creating a seamless overlap between the tiles and a single image free from the horizontal and vertical ‘blocking’ effect that would appear without the use of the system. According to Screen Technology, tiling allows it to build continuous image displays larger than would be possible by using single ‘monolithic’ screens.

The definition needed for huge screens is achieved by combining an array of standard LCD pixels into a single ITrans pixel.

Although ITrans is currently designed to work with LCD panels it will be equally suitable for use with emerging display technologies such as organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), the company said.

Because most of the elements used in the system – with the exception of the ITrans array – are standard components, manufacturing costs are kept down.

The first products will be video displays measuring up to 200in (5m) and targeted at the advertising and public information sectors.

The government financial support came after the DTI designated ITrans an ‘exceptional development’ project of strategic importance to its sector.

Screen Technology has also attracted favourable interest from Qinetiq, which last year bought a 6 per cent stake in the Cambridge business.