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Close Encounters of the Third Kind: SED
by Vincent Alzieu
Published on October 5, 2005

Every four years, Canon travels around the world and organises three products exposition, one in Tokyo, one in New-York and the third one in Paris. One of them is currently held in la Défense, Paris and it is impossible not to see them.

They have rented the CNIT, a part of the esplanade and the Arch basements. Canon presents current and upcoming technologies in a several thousands of square meters exposition open to the public.

Standard products are exposed such as printers and digital cameras, but there are other products more unusual such as this virtual control by hand of a data bank image projected on a big screen (like in Minority Report!), a camera capable of taking pictures by itself when the user is smiling, hydrogen batteries for digital cameras, transparent digital camera bodies, or even this mobile scanner to see patients’ organs in real time at home. But the high point of this exposition is without any contest the SED monitor!

It has been three years since the first time we heard about this technology. Three years that we have been waiting for an alternative technology, other than the OLED to replace LCD and Plasma monitors. A few figures are enough for everyone to understand why this monitor is so much awaited:

  • Response time : inferior to 1 ms
  • Contrast ratio : 100,000:1 (brightness is of 400 cd/m²)
  • Viewing angles : complete, 180° in each directions.

    In fact, SED seems to be the natural son of TFT and CRT monitors. It combines the thinness of the first and the qualities of the second and improves them. Like cathode-ray tube TVs, SED technology is based on the collision of electrons and phosphoric monitor to emit light. Still, unlike cathode-ray tubes, there isn’t a single gun for the monitor, but a mini electron gun behind each sub-pixel! 1920 x 1080 x 3 = 6.2 million of guns.

    If we take a closer look, each sub-pixel is made of a small glass panel portion covered with phosphor which connects to a conductor. In the rear there is first an empty space, then a transmitter which frees electrons if an electric voltage is applied between 16 an 18 Volts. Electrons emitted are then accelerated by a second Voltage close to 10,000 Volts applied this time between the panel conductor and another one located under the transmitter. They hit the panel phosphor and produces light.

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