Markets and Opportunities for Transparent Displays: 2014 to 2021 Chapter 1
NanoMarkets believes that the market for transparent displays is about to expand dramatically. “Smart glasses,” such as Google Glass and Augmented Reality (AR) applications have focused attention on displays that can simultaneously display information and function as windows on the real world. Display firms have begun to respond to these major trends with novel types of transparent displays. To do so they have had to invent new technologies. Transparent TFTs are especially challenging, with the most likely material solution being ZnO, though other options are possible. Hiding backlighting in transparent LCDs is also an issue, creating opportunities for transparent OLED displays; but these have their own challenges too. In this report, NanoMarkets identifies where the revenues will be generated by transparent displays over the next eight years. In addition to leading edge applications such as smart glasses and AR, this report also considers near-term applications for transparent displays in more mundane applications such as retail and automotive. This report is designed to be a guide to how transparent displays will be commercialized and provides both a roadmap to how the transparent display market will evolve and an assessment of the latest transparent display technology. And in addition to granular eight-year forecasts of the transparent display market, this report also discusses the product/market strategies of transparent display makers, both large and small.
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - Markets and Opportunities for Transparent Displays: 2014 to 2021 Chapter 1
Markets and Opportunities for Transparent
Displays: 2014 –2021
Published January 2014
Markets and Opportunities for Transparent Displays: 2014-2021
NanoMarkets believes that the market for transparent displays is about to expand
dramatically. “Smart glasses,” such as Google Glass and Augmented Reality (AR) applications
have focused attention on displays that can simultaneously display information and function
as windows on the real world.
Display firms have begun to respond to these major trends with novel types of transparent
displays. To do so they have had to invent new technologies. Transparent TFTs are especially
challenging, with the most likely material solution being ZnO, though other options are
possible. Hiding backlighting in transparent LCDs is also an issue, creating opportunities for
transparent OLED displays; but these have their own challenges too.
In this report, NanoMarkets identifies where the revenues will be generated by transparent
displays over the next eight years. In addition to leading edge applications such as smart
glasses and AR, this report also considers near-term applications for transparent displays in
more mundane applications such as retail and automotive.
This report is designed to be a guide to how transparent displays will be commercialized and
provides both a roadmap to how the transparent display market will evolve and an
assessment of the latest transparent display technology.
And in addition to granular eight-year forecasts of the transparent display market, this report
also discusses the product/market strategies of transparent display makers, both large and
TABLE OF CONTENTS
E.1 Key trends in transparent display technology
E.1.1 Opportunities for technology providers
E.2 Emerging applications for smart display technology
E.2.1 Opportunities for systems integrators and value-added resellers
E.3 Opportunities for materials firms
E.4 Eight companies to watch in the transparent display sector
E.5 Summary of eight-year forecasts of transparent displays
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Chapter One: Introduction
1.0 Background to report
2.0 Objective and scope of this report
3.0 Research and forecasting methodology
4,0 Plan of this report
Chapter Two: Transparent Display Technologies
2.1.1 Hiding or eliminating backlights
2.1.2 Suppliers of transparent LCD products
2.2.1 Suppliers of transparent OLED products
2.3.1 Suppliers of transparent e-paper products
2.4 Technology issues and enabling technologies
2.4.1 Transparent/opaque switching
2.4.2 Transparent TFTs and electrodes
2.4.3 Touch-screen technology in transparent displays
2.5 Software issues
2.5.1 Support of transparent features in operating systems
2.5.2 Augmented reality and transparent displays
2.6 Key points made in this chapter
Chapter Three: Applications and Markets for Transparent Displays
3.1 Mobile displays
3.1.1 Hiding batteries and other redesign issues
3.1.2 Cell phones and tablets
3.1.3 Laptops and notebooks
3.1.4 Eight-year forecast of mobile transparent displays by application
3.1.5 Eight-year forecast of mobile transparent displays by frontplane technology
3.2 Wearable computing
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3.2.1 Glasses and helmets
3.2.3 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays in wearables by application
3.2.4 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays in wearables by frontplane technology
3.3 Retail applications
3.3.1 Advertising displays and store windows
3.3.2 Display cases
3.3.3 Vending machines
3.3.4 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays in retail by application
3.3.5 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays in retail by frontplane technology
3.4 Building-related applications
3.4.1 Hybrid window/displays
3.4.2 Refrigerators and other appliances
3.4.3 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays for buildings by application
3.4.4 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays for buildings by frontplane technology
3.5 Other markets for transparent displays
3.5.1 Casino games
3.5.2 Museum displays
3.5.3 Automotive applications
3.5.4 Military applications
3.5.5 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays for other applications by application
3.5.6 Eight-year forecast of transparent displays for other applications by frontplane
3.6 Role of systems integrators and value added resellers
3.7 Summary of eight-year market forecasts
3.7.1 By application
3.7.2 By frontplane technology
3.8 Key points made in this chapter
Markets for Transparent Conductors in Touch Screen Sensors 2012
Transparent Electronics Markets - 2012
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Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background to this Report
Transparent displays have been around for many years, but have enjoyed only partial success. In
the military and the automotive industry, heads-up displays (HUDs) have been available for Page | 4
decades. On the retail side, a number of niche suppliers have been providing transparent displays
with limited capabilities for almost as long.
One reason why transparent displays have not been a big revenue generator so far is that actual
demand for transparent displays is limited. Who in the world really needs a display that one can
see through? In addition, for various technical reasons, transparent displays offer limited image
capabilities. However, NanoMarkets believes this situation is all about to change:
On the supply side, the display industry is gradually making a shift to organic light emitting
diode (OLED) technology, which is easier to turn into transparent displays than the
dominant liquid crystal display (LCD) technology.
On the demand side, new augmented reality (AR) applications seem to call for new types
of hardware platforms with transparent displays. The most obvious example of this kind of
platform is Google Glass, but we note that another dozen or so firms are offering products
of the Google Glass kind, and both Apple and Microsoft have shown interest in devices
with transparent displays.
Most of this technology is only barely on the market. NanoMarkets believes, however, that the
growing attention that these futuristic applications and associated transparent displays are getting
has proved a call to action for the more conventional sectors of the display industry.
As a result, we are seeing LCD firms coming up with clever ways around the technical problems
that have hampered the rise of transparent displays. In a highly competitive economic environment,
the retail and advertising sectors are finding these precursor transparent displays useful, and the
revenue from transparent displays is already beginning to grow.
As a result, NanoMarkets believes that transparent displays represent a substantial opportunity
over the next decade. However, we do caution that both the market and technical risks are quite
daunting in our opinion.
The market risks are high because there is not a full understanding of how transparent displays fit
into the retail and advertising market going forward. Even more uncertain are the prospects for AR,
a primarily software-based technology that is fueling much of the current attention in transparent
1.1.1 The Problem of Invisible Components in LCD Displays
The technical problems of creating transparent displays are equally worrying for display makers,
especially for LCD firms. In particular, the need for a transparent display immediately raises the
problem of how to create “invisible” backlighting and color filters.
Backlighting: Since most of the transparent displays that will hit the market in the next few years
are going to be LCDs, backlighting is an obvious challenge. NanoMarkets sees several theoretical
solutions to this issue, but really only one that has much commercial potential.
Backlighting itself could be made transparent using zinc oxide (ZnO) LEDs, but such devices are
more an interesting R&D topic than anything else. Another possibility—but an expensive one—is
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the use of additional optics so that the LEDs are not positioned directly behind the display.
The solution that most transparent LCDs are using—and, we believe will continue to use—is simply
to make use of ambient light. Samsung and JNM Display Company—both Korean companies—
are already supplying transparent displays using ambient light. The problem, of course, is that
when there is no light, the display doesn’t work.
As we see it, this limitation is a serious negative for this type of display, and one that is not easily
overcome. However, there is still some room for innovation here. For instance, Eyevis’ (Germany)
transparent LCD technology uses ambient light during the day while it is transparent and changes
to a more conventional dark background during the night. However, this type of approach isn’t
going to save the fortunes of the transparent LCD!
Color filters: A similar set of issues can be found with color filters, which are also not transparent.
Again, the typical solution with transparent displays is to remove the color filter. While doing so
makes it easier to make the LCD transparent, sacrificing color is a huge backward step for
We think that any transparent display company that sacrifices color thinking that it will not be hurt
in the marketplace should take a look at the electrochromic display business, which has been
devastated by “retina displays” and the like—in part because it has proved completely unable to
provide attractive color.
1.1.2 Enter the TOLED
These are serious limitations, and it is therefore no surprise to see a new and considerable focus
on transparent OLEDs (TOLEDs). Small TOLEDs are even being shipped in low volumes. Players
worth watching in the TOLED space include Futaba (Japan), Neoview Kolon (South Korea), and
Samsung (South Korea).
Because they are emissive and happen to provide excellent color, OLEDs need no backlighting or
color filters. So transparency seems easier to achieve; “easier,” but still not “easy.” Thus, various
factors hindered the plans of Samsung in 2010 to launch the world’s first TOLED-based device. LG
was also unable to make commercially available a prototype of a transparent display-based 15 inch
Some of the issues that TOLEDs face include:
The replacement of the usual metallic cathode with indium tin oxide (ITO) or some other
transparent conductive oxide (TCO),
The excessive light loss, and
The disruption of displayed images caused by light coming from the background.
Gradually these issues are being solved, and NanoMarkets expects progress to accelerate. Indeed,
the solutions need not be all that dramatic. For example, light loss can be controlled to some degree
by introducing a slight asymmetry in the local transmittance of the electrodes.
And once these problems are solved, we foresee some exciting possibilities, although we also note
that most of the really cool stuff here is being sponsored by Samsung in one way or another.
Thus, as a signpost to the future, we note that Samsung’s transparent display screens are being
used by Microsoft (U.S.) to create 3D-interactive computing systems in the lab. In addition,
Samsung might be utilizing a transparent panel with touch capabilities on both sides in its
smartphone (Galaxy S5) that is set for commercial release in the first half of 2014.
Samsung’s intention is also to enable Google to switch Google Glass to OLEDs, while Toshiba
(Japan) already has OLED AR glasses.
1.1.3 Coda: The TFT Factor
All of this news is very exciting. However, NanoMarkets believes that thin-film transistors (TFTs),
which are a problem for both transparent LCDs and TOLEDs, may be another challenging factor.
Silicon TFTs aren’t a possibility because they could never be transparent, so the most likely solution
will be oxide—possibly ZnO—TFTs. The good news is that these TFTs are already in use for
OLEDs, but not for TOLEDs. Oxide TFTs don’t have to be transparent, but they can be. Serious
manufacturing challenges remain, however.
As things stand now, therefore, the transparent display story is a cliffhanger. New applications
seem almost ready to turn the transparent display market into a profitable sector within the display
industry. But to get there, makers of transparent displays will have to simultaneously reinvent at
least the display backplane and possibly—because LCDs will remain dominant for many years—
the backlighting unit (BLU) as well.
1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report
This report is the first analysis from NanoMarkets on the market for transparent displays in retail,
advertising, consumer electronics, and augmented reality applications. This report is based on
NanoMarkets' ongoing industry research in the area of transparent display technologies that
leverage the benefits of LCD, OLED, or e-paper technologies.
The report is a comprehensive study of current trends in the market, including industry drivers and
technical limitations that are hindering the growth of the industry. The report provides an outline of
not only the current technological aspects, but also the potential future applications based on
current research and development efforts.
Specifically, the objective of this report is to analyze the potential of the currently available
transparent display solutions and evaluate the future opportunities. Market projections for the next
eight years are provided along with a brief description of various applications, profiles of major
manufacturers, and the prospects for different raw materials.
This report is entirely international in scope. The forecasts are worldwide forecasts and we have
not been geographically selective in the firms that we have covered in the report or interviewed in
order to collect information.
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1.3 Research and Forecasting Methodology
The forecasting approach in this report identifies and quantifies the underlying addressable markets
and various applications of transparent displays in leading geographical areas. An attempt has also
been made to identify future applications and market penetration of transparent displays in these
emerging applications. We also evaluate the stated plans of key firms in the market in our
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To determine where the opportunities lie, we have relied on both primary and secondary sources
Ongoing discussions with key players across the transparent display industry form our
primary information source.
We also draw extensive information from secondary resources, including the Internet,
commercial databases, trade press articles, press releases, SEC filings, and other
This approach enables us to provide an in-depth analysis of the relevant application markets,
including retail, advertising, consumer electronics, and the augmented reality space.
The forecasts are executed based on an inherent technical understanding of the currently used
applications that incorporate transparent display technology. We have also relied on various
scientific papers from journals and literature from various companies (brochures, annual reports,
and articles) in order to identify the future applications of the technology.
The resulting forecasting approach and the assumptions made when preparing the forecasts in this
report are explained in more detail in Chapter Three.
1.4 Plan of this Report
Chapter Two reviews the technical factors that are working in favor and against the successful
adoption of transparent display technology. In addition, this chapter examines the strategies
adopted by the key original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Samsung, LG, and Planar.
Significant attention has been paid to ongoing research in the raw material space. Recent technical
trends are also pointed out to provide a commercialization roadmap for transparent display
Chapter Three explores existing transparent display-based applications in detail, with specific
emphasis on mobile displays, wearable computing, retail applications, and building-related
applications. Other potential markets that are highlighted include casinos, museums, and the
automotive and military sectors. In addition, this chapter provides detailed forecasts of the
transparent display market with breakouts by application, type of material, and geography.