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issue: April 2005 APPLIANCE Magazine

Technology Report
Natural Color Matrix LCDs

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A new series of TFT LCD modules from Optrex America (Plymouth, MI, U.S.) uses Natural Color Matrix (NCM) technology for truly accurate color representation, optimum color balance, and superior image quality.

According to Optrex America, its new TFT LCDs with Natural Color Matrix technology enable vivid reproduction of even the most subtle colors, such as pastels and flesh tones, and provide independent control of six colors without one color influencing any of the others.

The patented technology, developed by Optrex’s parent company Mitsubishi Electric, is widely used in electronic projectors and is now being incorporated into digital TFT LCDs by Optrex America. According to Optrex, the new LCD modules provide unprecedented color fidelity for flat-panel displays used in a variety of appliance applications.

NCM technology utilizes a color transformation algorithm, implemented in a small portion of the display module’s timing controller (TCON) and requiring a small amount of ROM. This is said to provide real-time, on-the-fly processing, on a pixel-by-pixel basis, to precisely match the colors specified in a data source.

“Truly accurate color reproduction is achieved through a combination of the color transformation algorithm in the timing controller, along with the color change in the backlight,” explains John Cramer, a business development manager with Optrex America. “By doing those two things, we are able to take an original image that conforms to the sRGB color space and present it on a display screen conforming to the same sRGB color space.”

In addition to accurate color representation, the technology is also said to offer superior color balance. According to Mr. Cramer, this is achieved by optimizing the color filters and changing the backlight color to 6,500 kelvin.

Another key feature of the technology is its high image quality. Unlike conventional color mapping processes, in which adjusting one color influences the other colors, NCM is said to provide independent control. “The algorithm operates on an incoming data stream on the fly, in real time, on a pixel-by-pixel basis,” notes Mr. Cramer. “It is as capable of displaying full-motion video as it is of handling text and still images, while techniques based on look-up tables can easily get bogged down at video rates, and one-size-fits-all algorithms fail to render colors accurately.”

NCM is available in Optrex’s SVGA and XGA industrial TFT LCD modules in sizes 8.4- to 15-in diagonal. In addition to outstanding visual benefits, NCM-enabled displays are also specified with a wide operating temperature of -20ºC to 70ºC. Mr. Cramer says most TFT LCDs are specified with operating temperatures of 0ºC to 50ºC.

The new modules were designed for applications where accurate color reproduction is critical, including point-of-sale displays in markets such as fast food and retail, gaming applications, test and measurement instrumentation, and diagnostic and imaging equipment.

It is even suitable for applications of the future. “The benefits would be true for an Internet kitchen appliance that would allow consumers to order their groceries online,” says Mr. Cramer. “It would enable consumers to have an accurate view of what they are ordering online without any surprises.”

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Optrex America Inc.

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