The CEATEC 2016 exhibition is now taking place in Japan where numerous companies have gathered to showcase their latest products and discuss the future of smart devices. This year's exhibition is focused on IoT (Internet of Things) and CPS (cyber physical systems), and promotes the concept of "connecting society". More to the topic at hand, SHARP is one of the companies to attend CEATEC this year, and the big news surrounding the Japanese tech giant is the unveiling of a new IGZO display able to cram a staggering 1,000 pixels per inch.
SHARP has been developing IGZO displays for many years, and the technology has been used by many smartphone and tablet manufacturers, including Apple. IGZO (or indium gallium zinc oxide) is a semiconductor material used in display technology that can improve the resolution and size of flat-panel displays including OLED displays. But interestingly enough, SHARP's latest panel unveiled at CEATEC 2016 in Japan seems to be primarily targeted at the virtual reality segment as opposed to the smartphone or tablet markets. With VR headsets growing in popularity, there's been an increase in demand for sharper displays and SHARP is working on improving the technology. The exact size and resolution of the new IGZO display showcased in Japan are unclear, but according to reports, the panel is able to deliver a pixel density of over 1,000 pixels per inch. As a point of reference, the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium released in November 2015 packs a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160, leading to a pixel density of around 806 ppi. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – which is actually used for VR in conjunction with the Samsung Gear VR headset – sports a 5.7-inch panel with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and a pixel density of ~518 ppi, and the Oculus Rift which fits in the very top-tier VR market has a 461 ppi display.
The reason why pixel density is important for VR headsets should be quite obvious: the closer the display is to the human eye the more visible pixels become, and this can lead to the so-called "screen-door" effect and a lower quality image overall. Compared to the relatively low pixel density figures above, SHARP's newest 1,000+ ppi IGZO display represents a noteworthy step in the right direction for the future of VR. However, while the technology seems to be ready for consumer events, it will take a while before SHARP will be able to mass-produce these types of panels for the consumer market. Hopefully, they will be present in the next-generation VR headsets.