Low-power Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays
are used in a growing numbers of applications supporting
dismounted soldiers and commanders in situational awareness, thermal
imaging, simulation and training. Two types of OLED applications are
currently under various phases of maturation – the near-eye
microdisplays, developed by eMagin and Flexible OLED developed by
Universal Display Corp. (UDC).
OLED technology promises to revolutionize everything known about
information display, from video walls, to dynamic pricing in
supermarkets. For the military, Top-emitting OLED (TOLED) applications could
include wrist-mounted, featherweight, rugged PDAs and wearable
electronic displays such as "display sleeves" Other applications could
be conformed, high-contrast automotive instrument panels, windshield
displays and visor mounted displays to be used by for pilots, drivers
and divers, etc. More futuristic applications could be utilized in
camouflage systems, "smart" light emitting windows/shades etc.
Until 2005, OLEDs were used primarily for testing. Yet, in 2004 and
mostly by 2005, this technology is being integrated in more military
systems and on the long run is expected to replace most small
form-factor LCD displays. Among the applications where OLED technology
is already maturing are near-eye displays of “virtual images” When
projected on a head mounted, helmet mounted or visor (see-through)
display, such image appears like an image in a movie theater or on a
computer monitor, but is created using magnifying optics from a very
small display near to the eye. Such an image displayed with very high
resolution, can appear solid and real, or made see-through depending
on the type optics used.
Military and industrial customers are moving from the testing and
evaluation phase into deployment. According to Kenneth Geyer, vice
president of development at Liteye Systems Inc, the company has
ordered OLEDs in production quantities, to supply orders received from
military users in the USA, Europe and Australia. Several systems have
also been deployed to warfighters in Iraq. "We anticipate additional
programs moving into deployment phases in 2006 - 2007" said Geyer.
Other users of OLED displays include SaabTech, integrating eMagin's
OLED into the prototype Soldier Head-Mounted Device (HMD).