What can you expect from SID's DisplayWeek 2021? We discuss with Harit Doshi, the exhibition chair

SID Displayweek, the industry's premier display event will soon take place - again in a virtual format. Harit Doshi, SID's Exhibition Chair, was kind enough to talk to us and tell us more about the upcoming event:

Harit Doshi photo

Hello Harit! I'm sure you're excited towards this year's DisplayWeek!

I remember the energy in the display world, and particularly at Display Week, 20+ years ago when I entered the display industry. This was when CRTs were being replaced by LCDs and there were a lot of expectations from new display developments like flat-panel LCDs, electrophoretic displays, flexible and conformable LCDs, OLEDs, and LEDs.


Back then, it took a couple of decades for a new display technology to mature to mass adoption. This timeline seems to be shrinking drastically. And now, in the middle of this pandemic, innovation seems to be at full throttle. I am seeing the same level of excitement in the display industry that I saw 20 years ago. Display companies even started making more money in Q4 of 2020, because displays are the main interface for consumer electronics and how we interact with each other. In our new work-from-home, environment, people spend more time staring at their screens than being in front of other folks. And perhaps for the first time, the technology has become the intermediary for most of our interaction with friends and family—not just colleagues.

While innovation cycles have become faster and the lifetimes of incumbent technology are getting shorter, something different is also happening. In the past you would typically see an older technology completely replaced by newer technology, like in the case of CRTs getting replaced by LCDs for almost all applications. We are in a new era now. While OLED is starting to replace LCD technology in some applications, like mobile devices, tablets, and laptops, the LCD industry is continuing to innovate in performance and in cost, so it continues to thrive in applications like automotive and TV. And we see microLEDs trying to capture OLED territory in small and large area applications.

COVID-19 has made cross-border collaborations more challenging but has not been able to slow the pace of innovation in the display industry. It’s clear that if you miss one or two years of innovation, or disconnect from the latest developments, you may be left behind and never be able to catch up. This is one of the key reasons why Display Week is more important than ever. SID will be back soon with a live event, albeit it may take a slightly more hybrid approach in the future, borrowing some of the positive aspects of the virtual format. For example, we are excited about the possibilities of reaching the many people around the world in our industry who have not been able to participate in the past. 

What can we expect from this year's event?

We are really excited about our 58th annual all-virtual Display Week, which will be held from May 17 to May 21. We’re excited with all of the improvements we have instituted from Display Week 2020 (also virtual due to the pandemic) that will provide even more opportunities for live engagement.

So, what can you expect that is different? First. there will be opportunities including live author interviews, live Exhibitors’ Forum presentations and Q&As, live daily recaps with key highlights from the technical sessions, and real-time networking opportunities in the Networking Lounge. We’re looking into hosting a live trivia night (by invitation only). This year’s conference will also feature improved exhibition booths with more live engagement opportunities (including a video chatting feature), our People’s Choice awards in a new virtual format, live Q&A for the Women in Technology and CEO panels, and other improvements.

All the top exhibitors are back in the virtual show, including some top display makers that have not participated at Display Week in recent years. You can expect to see the latest OLED products and materials, AR/VR devices, miniLED-backlit LCD TVs, quantum-dot-based-products, microLED displays, wearables, automotive displays, reflective displays, touch sensor technologies, and many other new materials and technologies. We’ll also feature the Innovation Zone (I-Zone) exhibition, featuring startups and research institutions with the very latest technology. There is a wait list for sponsoring events. This shows the strength of the display industry.

JBD MicroLED microdisplay photo (SID 2021)

The Business Conference, which will be organized by Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), features presentations from prominent business leaders in the display industry, from innovative startups as well as larger, well-established companies, and from top display analysts who will offer market analysis. It is a must-attend event for anyone with a business focus, including VCs and private equity and hedge fund managers who are looking to invest in and network with people in the display industry, and for anyone truly trying to understand where the display industry and its market opportunities are headed.

Our CEO Forum and Women in Tech (WiT) panels offer great opportunities to hear about the challenges that others have faced and overcome. The theme for this year’s CEO Forum is Start-Manage-Exit, and we will have two women on this panel for the first time. The WiT panel, Leadership During a Pandemic, is also back with four sponsors: Corning, Google, Microsoft, and X Display. There will be great lessons to learn here, and you do not want to miss either session.

Access to all technical content (Symposium, Short Courses, Seminars, Business Conference) will be available on-demand for four months after the show to all registered users (the exhibits, keynotes, panel discussions, and other content will also be available for this amount of time.)

During Display Week, be sure to check out our live interviews with exhibitors and technical presenters, the People’s Choice Awards for virtual exhibitors, the I-Zone Best Prototype Awards, technology-focused networking lounges each evening, and our Young Engineers networking event.

We also have an amazing line-up of keynote speakers this year. Stayed tuned for more information about them around the end of April.

What kind of display technologies will be featured at display week?

Display innovation has never been stronger. At Display Week, you will see very significant progress on technology never seen before, including thinner than ever OLEDs, uLEDs, larger OLED panels, laptop and tablet-size OLED panels, more QD products, miniLED backlights, and new materials for displays, including TADF and perovskites. Sizes range from small (near-to-eye displays) to large, including outdoor signage. Other technology you’ll see and hear about in the technical sessions and elsewhere includes thin-film EL, electrochromic, electrophoretic, LCDs, printable OLEDs, bendable/flexible displays, head-up displays, and a lot of information on AR/VR topics, including optics, waveguides, and foveated rendering.

Special topics this year are AR/VR/MR, High-Dynamic-Range Displays, Machine Learning for Displays; and IoT (Internet of Things) Displays. This is the first year for IoT at Display Week and presentations in this area will include a glass-embedded electromagnetic surface for wireless communication and processing requirements for large-format displays such as LED walls.

Other topics include sensors, especially fingerprint sensing, as well as new form factors: foldable, transparent, and on skin displays.

Manufacturing trends are also an important topic. MicroLEDs are the hot new material but now face manufacturing challenges in terms of yield, color uniformity, and mass production. Still important are issues such as improving yield for OLEDs, especially larger panels (encapsulation and related lifetime issues are still challenges). We’re seeing overall trends in this year in the direction of making manufacturing processes much faster and more efficient.

What gets you personally most excited today in our industry?

We have a brand-new industry now; the demand has never been higher for displays, especially with the work-from-home environment. OLED display technology is enabling new product applications like foldable phones, tablets, and laptops. There is so much potential for new consumer applications, like AR/VR, with possibly brand-new display technologies aiming to go mainstream.

Q4 2020 was a record year for the display industry, and companies are making record profits. There is renewed interest to take displays to new heights, driven by consumer demand and appreciation. I am also excited about the possibility of a brand-new LCD fab in the US. We are heading toward a time when multiple display technologies will co-exist to provide the best possible performance and experience to consumers. We may be entering an era of fast innovation and development such as we have never seen before. We have seen an overwhelming response and sense of excitement from exhibitors, even though Display Week 2021 will be an all-virtual show. To me this a clear sign of how resilient our display industry is.

OLED technology has made lots of progress and we are looking forward to seeing flexible OLED foldable phones become mainstream as display manufacturers strive to solve technical hurdles and scale production capabilities. MicroLEDs, believed to be the ultimate in display performance, are trying to compete with LCDs for large-size applications and perhaps cut into the lifespan of LCD and OLED technologies for some applications.

This is also the 10th year for the Innovation Zone at Display Week. I-Zone was created to showcase nascent technology from startups and research institutions. It’s one of the most popular parts of Display Week. For 2021, we are especially looking forward to recognizing the success stories of I-Zone companies and technologies over the past decade.

On the learning front, there has never been a better opportunity than the virtual symposium platform. Making time to see everything at the physical show is always a challenge. You actually can’t see everything! You’d have to clone yourself to attend the multiple symposium presentations, short courses, and seminar sessions in parallel during week.

Last but not least, I am the chair of SID conventions, but also a volunteer, and it is such a privilege to work with the best people in the global display industry.

How did you feel about Virtual DW 2020? What are your key takeaways?

In 2020, after postponing the physical show initially, it was clear that we had two options: cancel the show or pivot to a new virtual platform. Choosing a virtual platform for a deep hardware technology like displays is not an easy task but we are so glad that we decided to organize a virtual event for DW 2020. The team only had couple of months to plan out the virtual event last year, but we learned a lot from that experience. Attendee surveys showed a very high level of satisfaction. People really enjoyed learning and reviewing the technical presentations at their own pace over a four-month period of availability post-show. Whenever I logged on, weeks after Display Week, I would see many people logged in to the virtual platform -- this was really good to note. As an exhibitor myself, I saw people visiting our booth throughout this four-month period, albeit at smaller numbers after the week of the show. Where else can you get exposure and learning opportunities like this?

SID Displayweek 2021 - lobbie

On the exhibitor side, we had about 170 exhibitors in the end, similar to the sign-up for the physical show. One of our takeaways was that there was not enough time for the exhibitors to prepare for a virtual event. We encouraged attendees to check out the exhibits during the virtual show hours, but the way you make discoveries during a physical show as you wander around the show floor just isn’t the same in the virtual world. For Display Week 2021, we made the decision on a virtual event early, allowing more time for exhibitors to plan ahead. We are improving the platform with a lot more live engagement elements throughout the week, bringing back the People’s Choice awards (in a virtual format), and making many more improvement to drive attendee and exhibitor engagement during Display Week.

Can you give some tips for display professionals that want to make the most out of Display Week 2021?

We have packed Display Week 2021 with a lot more live engagement opportunities that include the exhibitors, authors, and special topic networking with other attendees. So, I would advise everyone to plan ahead to be able to participate in maximum live engagement events, as this will be a key differentiator over last year.

While we don’t have to worry about attending two to four dinners every night like we do at the physical show, don’t just do one thing per day. For professionals seeking jobs, there will be plenty of opportunities to connect with companies that are hiring. Don’t miss sessions like the CEO Forum -- you never know which tip might help you get the top job. Women in Tech will help you become a better colleague, employee, manager, and leader, so don’t miss this one either.

Media will be briefed on the latest trends on opening day -- this press conference will be hosted by the SID marketing team. Members of the press should contact them at press@sid.org to reserve a seat.

Don’t forget to visit all the exhibitors and vote in the People’s Choice awards. Visit I-Zone to check-out the latest innovations from startups and universities and learn the success stories of companies that started their journey at the I-Zone.

To managers and decision makers in the display industry, allow all your employees to join virtual Display Week 2021, where they can experience this unique learning and networking opportunity all from the comfort of their homes, without having to travel and be away from work.

Do you believe we'll get to have a real live Display Week 2022?

We certainly hope so. The display industry and SID’s Display Week team are eager to go back to a physical show. We believe that there will be a huge pent-up reception and appreciation for the live event in 2022. People are eager to connect with customers, partners, industry friends, and experts. But although we are looking forward to returning to a physical show, it is clear that there is not a better learning platform for attendees and students entering the display industry than the virtual symposium at Display Week, especially when you can access these materials for months. You don’t go to a college to learn everything in a week so why should our programs be any different?

So, we believe that some aspects of virtual elements are here to stay as the world emerges to a new hybrid paradigm. Exhibitors can extend their reach to not only the attendees at the physical show but to the display community members who cannot always travel to Display Week every year. We believe that this will further the goals of SID, a not-for-profit, to support and cultivate a healthy and profitable display industry for the longer term.

Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Display Week attendees, exhibitors, hundreds of volunteers, SID team, Palisades Convention Management (PCM), Leavitt Communications, and all our partners who support the display industry during these challenging times.

Posted: Apr 21,2021 by Ron Mertens