Ultimicron: The Ultimate LCD Panel

Projectors are used to show text for meetings, photos and videos on large screens. They have become indispensible presentation tools in business and are being used in an expanding number of scenarios, including movies at home, lessons at school, and advertising in stores. Epson has maintained the top share of the fast-growing projector market for ten years.

HTPS panel

Epson's high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) LCD panels, the key component in 3LCD projectors, are one of the reasons its projectors have been highly evaluated by customers over such a long period. Epson has amassed a vast storehouse of technology and expertise in HTPS panels. Between Epson-branded devices and sales to other manufacturers, over 70 million of the panels have been shipped to date.

Epson has established 3LCD as one of its core technologies, and is currently expanding the application of this technology in various new fields where it can provide unique value. One such example would be viewfinders for digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras.

A viewfinder is essential for checking how the subject of the photo appears. Optical viewfinders, which use a mirror to reflect the light coming from the subject, have traditionally been the most common type. However, these viewfinders must include a mirror and prism, which frustrates efforts to make cameras smaller and lighter. There are also structural limitations that prevent the viewfinder from showing an image while recording video. An electronic viewfinder (EVF), which electronically displays the information from the image sensor, was one way to get around this limitation, but the resolution was too low to focus properly so it never gained much acceptance in DSLR cameras.

Elecronic viewfinder

Optical viewfinder

To overcome this challenge, Epson set out to develop a compact and lightweight LCD panel for EVF based on the high-resolution HTPS panels used in projectors. Using its expertise in miniaturization technology, Epson successfully produced an LCD panel for EVF capable of displaying high-resolution images with 16.77 million vibrant colors and no graininess, all on a display area no bigger than a penny. This was achieved by arranging each pixel of the color filter in a 4 x 12 μm stripe pattern for each of the individual R-G-B sub-pixels.

The Ultimicron name is a combination of Ultimate and Micron. These new EVF panels, which are being used in mid-range to high-end DSLR cameras and in broadcast and commercial camcorders, are receiving rave reviews from end users including prosumers with a discerning eye for image quality.

The ability to render beautiful images on a single small panel has also led to the use of Ultimicron in futuristic new products, such as the Moverio BT-100 transparent head-mounted display announced by Epson in November 2011. The device, which is worn like a pair of glasses, lets users watch video and surf the web on a large screen anytime, anywhere. This compact, lightweight mobile device capable of showing bright, high-resolution video was made possible by Ultimicron.

Detailed information on Ultimicron can be found here: