Tiny microdisplays are revolutionising optics with high resolution images that are mirrored directly in front of the eye. Viewers feel they are in the thick of the action, and especially pilots will appreciate the benefits in flight simulations.
The secret market leader in this field is the Scottish company Forth Dimension Displays. “Big is beautiful” is the motto when it comes to displays, yet what holds true for consumers, turns into the very opposite for scientific and engineering applications. Instead, true adepts in their fields extract the maximum out of miniaturised monitors – like the Adlershof subsidiary of the Scottish company Forth Dimension Displays.
The company conjures brilliant images from displays that wouldn’t even cover a postage stamp.
The trick: magnifying optics integrated in special goggles, so called head mounted displays (HMDs), mirror the images directly in front of the eye, giving rise to a realism that has brought customers running to Forth Dimension, above all providers of training and simulation systems and imaging techniques in medical engineering, measurement technologies and film production, including the ARRI Group and EADS Astrium N.V. A great many flight simulations are equipped with these microdisplays, and surgeons can pop open MRT images before their eyes while they are operating.
But why the “forth dimension” for this so called near to eye (NTE) technology? Nigel Cartwright, Managing Development Engineer, laughed: “It’s a play on words. On the one hand, our head office in Scotland is on the river Forth, and on the other we interpret time to be the fourth dimension.”
And time is essential for this new technology. At its heart are special liquid crystals, so called liquid crystals on silicon (LCOS), used to make up the displays. LCOS reflect light at great speed.
Not only that, the material allows Forth Dimension to depict the whole colour spectrum on only the one pixel in the image – circumventing the usual procedure of distributing red, green and blue light over a number of pixels.
The result is high resolution display build up. “We are the world market leader in the field of high resolution NTE displays,” added Cartwright. “Our key market is Europe, above all here in Germany.” Adlershof was therefore ideal owing to its central location.
“Moreover, we’re hoping to cooperate with research institutes,” he emphasised. Incidentally, the displays do full justice to a peculiar Scottish discipline: They’re not only miserly in size, but also in energy consumption. by Chris Löwer
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