Philips' OLED lighting division has a new head of Marketing and Business Development - Jay Kim. Before he was responsible for OLED product marketing, business development, MarCom and customer services functions globally, Jay headed Philips' industry segment marketing in Europe involving Philips LED luminaries, lighting controls and services. And he was kind enough to agree to this interview here at OLED-Info.
Q: Jay - thanks for your time. Let's jump, shall we? In March 2014 Philips announced the FL300, your brightest OLED yet at 300 lumens. Any updates on this panel? Is it still on track for Q3?
We are very happy with the performance of the new Brite FL300 and its acceptance in the market. Already before official market introduction at Light+Building we have had three designs where the brightest OLED on the market is used. Italian furniture maker Riva1920 uses our OLED in its K BLADE lamp, an exceptional beautiful wooden desk lamp combining 48,000 years old Kauri wood from New Zealand with the world’s most modern lighting technology OLED. Besides that, German Designer Thomas Emde is using the Brite FL300 in its new series of OLED luminaires sold under the label OMLED. In addition, he is working closely together with Italian luminaire manufacturer Luceplan. Together they bring the OLALAL OLED luminaire to the market. Also, many of our customers with designs based on the Lumiblade GL350 OLED are going to switch to the new OLED as well.
On the production side we are in plan as communicated so that the FL300 will be available as of Q3.
Q: Can you update us on the types of panels currently being offered by Philips?
Philips is currently offering two lines of OLED panels. Line one is for decorative purposes. Those OLEDs are reflective when switched off and are available in different colors. OLEDs of this line are used also in our three OLED solutions, LivingShapes interactive mirror and interactive wall as well as LivingSculpture 3D module system. Our second OLED line is meant for functional purposes. Here we offer the Brite FL300 and more shapes in the future. For example the FL500 with roughly 35 cm length and 500 lumens which we announced at Light+Building as well. An ideal OLED for under shelf lighting applications, coming in 2015.
Q: Many believe that the automotive market will be the first real OLED lighting niche. Do you agree to that? When do you expect OLED lighting to be adopted in a commercial car? Will those be taillights at first, or internal lighting systems?
I strongly believe that OLEDs and cars belong together and that OLED will be seen in cars by 2016. OLEDs are meant for replacing these strings of LED lights mimicking surfaces of light, as OLEDs are a light surface. In addition, OLEDs offer more design freedom as car makers look into 3D appearance of tail lights.
Philips together with some research partners have shown how this could look like with the cool transparent and 3D shaped OLEDs for the Audi TT. In addition, OLEDs will certainly play a role as indicator or as daylight driving light. However, not as real head lamp as their light is too diffused and would need for a system to shape the beam.
When it comes to the interior, OLEDs will play a role as well. Even in the most exclusive cars designers have to use traditional light sources which are hidden somewhere under a more or less designish cap. Just imagine how OLEDs could change the interior appearance when integrated in the front ceilings, the sky or the vanity mirror. Endless opportunities not only in cars but also in boats and planes. Especially for the latter, every gram counts. With OLEDs and no cooling system necessary OLEDs can do the job better with less power and less weight than nowadays lighting systems.
Q: OLEDs are currently used in high-end premium installations and luminaires only. When do you expect to see prices come down, leading to adoption in commercial/residential systems?
We see already today a drop in the prices for new luminaires hitting the market. A price tag of roughly 650 Euro for Riva1920’s K BLADE for example was unseen two years ago. Also we are offering the Brite FL300 for the same price as its predecessor GL350. So you are getting a brighter and more efficient OLED for the same money.
With our new production line here at Lumiblade HQs in Aachen (Germany) we are able to produce in one day the same amount of OLEDs which we did produce on the older production line from 2007 in a week. So this is clearly a production capacity which brings us in the position to produce faster and more OLEDs in order to reduce the price tag. My personal expectation is that by 2018 the latest, OLEDs are a household product that you and I can afford to buy.
Q: How do you see OLEDs effecting the general lighting market? What are the strengths and weaknesses of this technology?
OLEDs are a new breed of light source which offer new possibilities for the customer. OLEDs will of course be used in lighting applications we all know like desk lamps, ceiling lamps etc. But it is their potential to bring light to place currently not associated with lighting that makes them so special. Just imagine yourself in a few years entering a room. You probably will not switch on the ceiling or wall lamps anymore, but the bookshelf, the furniture or even the windows in which transparent OLEDs are being used. So OLEDs are changing the way we are all dealing with light in an enormous way.
The strengths of OLEDs are their appearance. They are so slim and so lightweight, that you really have to see this light source in a different light. Besides being a light source OLEDs are also a material which emits light, opening fascinating possibilities for designers and people working with light. As for weakness although OLEDs are still a very young light source, the performances we see are incredible. However, comparing their performances with the performances of traditional light sources is rather unfair. So I would not call this a weakness at all but room for improvement on which we know already that we will catch up to LED or other light sources in the future.
Q: Even though currently Philips is using evaporable SM-OLEDs, we know that you are also developing soluble OLEDs. What are the advantages and disadvantages of soluble OLEDs for Philips? When should we expect to see soluble OLED adopted commercially in production?
Our production lines are laid out for the evaporation process. We are very happy with the results we are seeing there and have no intention to change this on short hand. However, as you know, Philips is researching OLEDs since 1991 and as a leader in this technology we look into all option and possibilities to make our OLEDs better. So one does not know what is going to happen in 4 years or so. For now, we are happy with the processes we have.
Q: Following Konica Minolta's mass production plan announcement should we expect Philips to follow suit and announce mass production plans as well? Do you believe this move by KM signals the OLED market emergence?
Philips has been on the forefront of the OLED lighting innovation and has been promoting OLEDs for years. During the past years Philips led the industrialization of OLED by heavily investing in capacity and processes to make the technology more accessible. We are happy to hear that other companies see the potential of OLED lighting as well and assign strong invests to this attractive technology. We read it as confirmation that OLEDs will become mass volume products.
Q: The KM announcement got me thinking that the big lighting makers (OSRAM, Philips, GE) may be a bit behind in the OLED race (compared to KM, LG Chem, Mitsubishi/Pioneer) as these companies seem faster to adopt new process technologies. What is Philips' take on this?
Both KM and Philips have pioneered the OLED market and there are different strategies in how to win this market. The main players focus primarily either on high brightness (Philips), flexibility (KM) or larger size (LG) as winning feature. We all acknowledge these as differentiators for OLEDs but have different views on what first becomes relevant. We believe in larger areas as differentiator as well, but only, when the high substrate costs will come down.
Q: Philips is currently producing only rigid glass based OLEDs. When should we expect flexible OLEDs and perhaps transparent ones as well?
Philips has been researching the possibilities to produce flexible OLEDs for a long time. We have invested in a machine that can supply both, rigid and flexible OLEDs. You will see first flexible samples still during this year and we will work towards a full launch 2016/2017. A Major issue is still quality of barrier layers to secure the product reliability and performance. As for transparent OLEDs. We showed the first ones already in 2012 and provide them on project basis to our partner since 2013.
Q: Earlier in 2014 Philips launched their own luminaire, and also your own signage and emergency lighting panels. Does this signal a move by Philips to provide whole OLED lighting solutions rather than just the panels/modules?
First, we did not lunch our own emergency exit lighting panel. With the Lumiblade SI210.105 OLED panel we provide an OLED which can be used as a canvas. ETAP lighting in Belgium is using this OLED in their product, the K4 emergency exit sign. As lighting company Philips is using any light source produced within the company either for own products or providing the light sources to other companies for their products. The OLED is no exception to that.
With the Brite FL300 OLED panel, Lumiblade is offering a very attractive OLED (not only in performance but also in pricing) which enables us to produce a luminaire, which comes with a normal Philips price tag.
Q: In November 2013 Philips signed an evaluation agreement with UDC, for PHOLED material supply. When should we expect PHOLED based panels from Philips with higher efficiency?
I cannot go into details on this as it is Philips policy not to comment on production related issues. What I can say is that we are constantly evaluating material from different suppliers, UDC makes not exception to the rule. We are constantly tuning our OLEDs to be more efficient, brighter and better in lifetime so expect new figures soon.
Q: In February 2012, you sent us an OLED lighting roadmap, which detailed a 1x1 meter flexible OLED by 2018. I understand you're actually progressing faster than expected. Can you perhaps provide us with an updated roadmap?
Correct, we have overrun most of the things we published in the roadmap in 2012. Now we are working on bringing this all together in one OLED. Philips is focusing on functional lighting more than on decorative, which is why we have not continued our work on color variable technology.
Our aim is to make OLED lighting available as light source for everyday use. So you will not see a color changeable OLED in the near future, however, we do know how to do it. So when our OLEDs will be bright enough and the markets shows a demand on color changeable OLEDs, we will be there.
When it comes to size: currently, inherent technology costs are still pretty high and they scale with area. We therefore focused our development efforts on creating maximum lumen packages from a relatively small area. Our Lumiblade FL300 Brite is the world’s brightest OLED with up to 300 lumens distributed over only 104 cm² lit area. This is 3 lm/cm2 compared to LG’s panel with roughly 1 lm/cm².
We want to enable our clients to use OLEDs in a wider field of applications by adapting the brightness level up to 10,000 nit per m². Soft, diffuse and seamless light is certainly an attractive feature and the larger the homogenous area is, the more attractive. But: it can only be successful, if it comes at the right costs, comparable to other technologies like edge-lit backlights.
Jay - thanks again for this interesting interview. Good luck to both you and Philips' OLED business!