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Thursday, August 28, 2008
Philips Research Reveals Ultra-thin Backlight Technology For TVs

In the Future Zone of this year's IFA trade fair in Berlin, Philips Research will demonstrate its thinnest 32" liquid crystal display (LCD) prototype on show.

With a 1mm light guide, Philips Research has created a display prototype of only 8mm. When incorporated into a TV set, Philips expects that this ultra-thin LCD will tap into consumers? desire to easily hang their flat-screen TVs on the wall ? just as they would do with a painting.

The ultra-thin backlight technology reflects the general design trend and enables consumers to use their TV as a piece of art rather than a piece of electronics. People want to be able to hang their TVs on the walls, just as if they were paintings. The latest product developments enabled the launch of Essence, a stylish 42" slim display that is only 38mm thick. Now, the backlight technology of Philips Research takes it a step further and brings the ultra-thin trend to a next level.

"At just 8mm thick, our ultra-thin display concept will enable the thinnest 32" LCD-TV," says Fred Boekhorst, Senior Vice-President Philips Research and Program Manager Lifestyle. "Our concept is also very light ? around 5 kg ? enabling a 32" LCD-TV that is around 10 kg lighter than existing comparable TV sets. As a result, hanging such an LCD-TV becomes simple and easy."

Philips Research has based this ultra-thin design on its expertise in optical design and backlighting technology. The technology involves a very thin light guide plate illuminated from the top and bottom by high-power, energy-efficient LEDs. Using Philips' patented light in-coupling structure and a fine-tuned out-coupling pattern, light can be distributed over the whole display area in a uniform fashion.

"We?ve managed to cut the size of the light guide ? which is the thickest part of an LCD from around 25mm to just 1mm," says Boekhorst. "Hence, the thickest part of the display has now become one of the thinnest parts, even thinner than the LC panel. This has been key in achieving the sleek ultra-thin design."

As this is not a commercial product yet, the ultra-thin display concept will be demonstrated by Philips Research in the Future Zone, Philips stand hall 22.

SimplicityLabs: a virtual lab for people-focused innovation

At the same event, Philips Research will present its new online research environment - SimplicityLabs. This virtual environment allows people worldwide to experiment with new software-based product concepts in the comfort of their own homes.

How it works

For each selected product concept, a product mock-up or software prototype is placed in the online SimplicityLabs for people to experiment with. In this way, people can actually try out the product concept features. Wide-reaching and quick feedback is then gathered on key issues, such as whether or not people like the concept, which functions are popular and which could be improved. This feedback is both explicit (i.e., people fill in a questionnaire about the concept) and implicit (i.e., the system records how people actually interact with the mock-up or prototype).

"Once we've gathered and interpreted this data, we can make all the improvements necessary to turn the online product concept into a real, consumer-focused product that, we expect, people will love," says Fred Boekhorst, Senior Vice-President Philips Research and Program Manager Lifestyle.

At the IFA, attendees will be invited to experience new technology concepts that Philips is currently testing in its SimplicityLabs. One of these concepts is Personal TV Channels, which was outlined during IFA last year. This is a patented recommendation technology of Philips that finds, filters and delivers content from different media directly to the viewer's TV screen. This solution is perfect for players in the TV, multimedia and advertising industry to fulfill one mission - provide personalized TV entertainment and advertising to the end user. The gathered feedback on this and the other concepts in SimplicityLabs is used to further optimize the product concepts.

The next step in 'experience' research

Like Philips Research's ExperienceLab, SimplicityLabs places the consumer at the very heart of the innovation process. Therefore, it will play an important role in Philips' drive to include end-user feedback into its research towards new concepts and products. "Of course, we already have many initiatives that do this, for instance in ExperienceLab. But what?s new about SimplicityLabs is that people can join in the experiments at any time, from anywhere, as it is targeted to concepts that can be tested in a virtual environment," says Boekhorst. This, Philips expects, will boost take-up rates and provide faster and richer consumer feedback in the early phases of product concept development. "In the longer term, we expect SimplicityLabs will make a significant contribution to steering our innovation process and to ensuring that products in our portfolio are based on existing, wide-ranging consumer needs."

Visitors at IFA can join the experiments in SimplicityLabs in the Future Zone which is situated on the Philips stand, hall 22.

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