What is LED Display: Everything You Need to Know

Most people may know LED because of smart TVs and smartphones. When LED screens were introduced, they were marketed as the brighter, more energy-efficient option for the then-LCD-dominated tech industry. Today, these electronic displays have expanded to commercial use, from sprawling billboards along highways to interactive experiences in concerts. But did you know that these canvasses are made up of thousands of tiny bulb-like semiconductors? Read below to learn more about LED displays.

What does LED display mean?

LED displays are flat-panel displays composed of multiple LED panels that use Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) as a light source. The display can recreate images accurately by adjusting the brightness of each LED. Because of their high color gamut, they can produce clearer and sharper images compared to LCD (Liquid Crystal Display), making them popular for indoor and outdoor use.

Historical Background of LED Technology

LED technology can be traced back to the discovery of the electroluminescence phenomenon in 1907 by H. J. Round of Marconi Labs. Electroluminescence refers to the process where a material emits light when electricity passes through it. This discovery inspired Russian scientist Oleg Rosev to create the first LED in 1927 by letting direct current pass through silicon carbide. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that LEDs were used for digital displays.

Between 1962 and 1968, Hewlett-Packard spearheaded the research and development of practical LEDs. Partnering with Monsanto Company, HP launched the first usable LED display in 1968. However, it was only able to display one color. And so did the subsequent inventions. Early LEDs were only able to produce red, and it wasn’t until the 1980s that inventors were able to recreate the color blue. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, LED displays can recreate a wide array of colors, allowing them to display highly detailed images.

What is LED Screen made of?

An LED screen is made of thousands of tightly-packed light-emitting diodes. The brightness of these semiconductors can be adjusted to accurately replicate colors and images. Think of the LEDs as pigments. To produce new colors, additive color is used, and lights are mixed in different colors. In an LED display, red, green, and blue LEDs follow a pattern to form a pixel. For reference, a 32-inch LED TV could have more than a million pixels, so you can just imagine how many LEDs are used for an electronic billboard.

How does an LED display work?

An LED display could have multiple LED panels, and these panels have millions of individual LEDs. When electric current passes through, each LED will emit light. To display an image or video, the created content is sent to a processor, which then converts it into signals that will be interpreted by the LED panels. These signals are converted to specific colors or levels of brightness. And because LEDs are independent from one another, they can be controlled separately, giving the panels a wider range of colors and brightness.

Differences Between LCD and LED Displays

LED and LCD are the two most common displays you would encounter. Technically, both displays use liquid crystals to display images. However, they use different backlights to illuminate the liquid crystal solution: LCD uses fluorescent, while LED, as previously mentioned, uses light-emitting diodes.

The fluorescent lights on LCDs only emit white light and have similar brightness levels across the display. On the other hand, LEDs emit red, green, and blue lights that produce better picture quality when mixed and adjusted to varying brightness levels.

The most widely known difference, though, is energy efficiency. Since the fluorescent lights in LCDs are at a constant brightness level, they consume more energy than LEDs that can be regulated. This allows massive LED monitors to display videos for an extended time, without excessive power consumption.

Types of LED displays

The types of LED displays can be categorized according to their location and installation method: 

Indoor vs. Outdoor LED Displays

Indoor LED Displays: commonly used in shopping malls, stadiums, and airports. They are typically intended for close-distance viewing such as for advertising products, displaying information, and indoor entertainment.

Outdoor LED Displays: these are built to survive harsh outdoor conditions and are intended for long-distance viewing. They are typically used for billboards, stadium screens, and other outdoor events. Compared to their indoor counterparts, outdoor LED displays have significantly higher brightness levels and more sturdy construction to allow them to display media in any lighting condition.

Fixed vs. Rental LED Displays

Fixed LED Displays: these type of LED displays are mounted in a permanent location, whether indoor or outdoor. They are commonly found installed on building facades, sports stadiums, shops, and other high-traffic areas. They are built for long-term use and are typically designed to fit certain architectural requirements.

Aside from being used for advertising and promotional purposes, they can also be installed as part of a building’s design. Such is the case with the Vegas Sphere, which is recognized as the largest LED display in the world. The exterior of the building is made up of approximately 1.2 million LEDs, or about 54,000 square meters of LED panels.

Rental LED Displays: these are also known as mobile LEDs or LED video walls. As the name suggests, rental LED displays are a temporary solution used for one-time events such as concerts and festivals. They are designed to be portable, allowing for easy assembly/disassembly and transportation. These types of displays are ideal for short-term use.

The highly-anticipated Eras Tour of pop star Taylor Swift is a great example of the use of rental LED displays. The stage design for the world tour includes a massive LED wall that spans the width of the stadium and a long LED interactive floor. For tours of this magnitude, logistics is one of the challenges. And the portability of rental LED displays helps moving the set from one destination to another easier.

What is an LED Display used for?

Entertainment and Events

LED displays are used in concerts, theaters, and other live events as backdrops or interactive experiences. Before the introduction of LED walls, stage designers used electrical lights and experimented with colors and focus to create variations in lighting. When LED stages became popular in 2007, it allowed designers to control light changes through a console without the need for additional lighting materials, end subsequently cut production costs. More recent developments include movable LEDs, which can be programmed to follow certain patterns.

Advertising and Marketing

Because of their vivid color reproduction and high-definition display, LED screens are a popular way to advertise products and services. Gone are days of static, tarpaulin-printed ads. Brands are now opting for interactive advertisements that pique the interest of pedestrians. With people’s attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, marketing campaigns have to stand out, and LED displays are the answer. Most recently, 3D LED screens have popped out in every major city, some even becoming local tourist attractions. And with increased foot traffic comes an increase in ad value.

Transportation and Public Spaces

 

Airports, train stations, and other transport hubs utilize LED displays to show arrival/departure times, route maps, and public service announcements. LED displays can also be used to enhance the ambiance in public spaces, such as digital installations in parks and interactive displays in museums.

Advantages of LED Displays

Superior Image Quality and Brightness

Because LED panels are composed of individual LEDs, they have better control over color contrast, producing truer blacks and truer whites and rendering clearer images. Compared to LCD backlighting which can only produce blacks and whites, LED backlighting can produce the entire RGB spectrum, allowing it to provide deeper color contrasts, sharper images, and higher brightness levels. 

Energy Efficiency and Environmental Impact

LED screens have more precise control over their light sources. Because LEDs can be controlled individually, LED displays can adjust their brightness levels accordingly, therefore saving energy in the long run. In contrast, LCD screens use fluorescent lights that only have one brightness setting, making energy utilization impossible. 

Longevity and Durability

Since the diodes in an LED display function independently from one another, they can be replaced once damaged–without affecting the whole screen. This makes them easier and cheaper to maintain than LCDs that require the replacement of the entire fluorescent bulb when damaged.    

Future Prospects and Innovations

Better Resolution, Increased Pixel Density

As LED technology advances, higher-resolution displays with better pixel density can be expected. This will allow LED displays to recreate sharper images and produce finer details.

Flexible Displays

Curved or bendable LED displays are not new. However, they still need improvements. In the case of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold series, issues regarding physical distortion of the screen and damage to the actual display are points to improve on.

Transparent Displays

Transparent displays allow viewers to see through the display while still playing content. These displays do not need backlighting, therefore eliminating the need for an enclosure. Future developments will see even greater transparency and improved image quality.

Conclusion

LED displays have come a long way from being monochromatic. Today, these electronic canvasses can reproduce every possible color, recreating images with great detail. From simple advertisements in malls to immersive experiences in museums, LED displays have changed how we consume media. And with technology advancing each year, we can only expect better, brighter, and bigger displays in the future.

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