OLED Signage Tested at Train Station in Japan

May 19, 2009
Masao Oonishi, Nikkei Microdevices
Digital signage with 7.6-inch OLED panels are being tested at an automatic ticket gate (JR Ebisu station). The panels are equipped on the upper surface and front of the entrance.
Digital signage with 7.6-inch OLED panels are being tested at an automatic ticket gate (JR Ebisu station). The panels are equipped on the upper surface and front of the entrance.
[Click to enlarge image]
One of the contents used in the test. I thought the image was colorful and expressive.
One of the contents used in the test. I thought the image was colorful and expressive.
[Click to enlarge image]
The OLED signage looks better from a distance as well (the signage on the second gate from the left is the OLED panel, and the others are advertisement stickers).
The OLED signage looks better from a distance as well (the signage on the second gate from the left is the OLED panel, and the others are advertisement stickers).
[Click to enlarge image]

JR East Group's JR East Mechatronics Co Ltd and East Japan Marketing & Communications Inc started testing a digital signage system using OLED panels at Ebisu station May 18, 2009, in Japan.

They removed the sticker advertisements placed over the panels and began the test just after 11:00 a.m. that day. They were recognizable even from a distance.

The two companies tested a digital signage using color electronic paper modules at the same ticket gate in 2008. Their screen size was 105 x 210mm, and the pixel counts of the modules made by Hitachi Ltd and Fujitsu Ltd were 320 x 640 and 400 x 600, respectively.

This time, JR East Mechatronics and East Japan Marketing & Communications employed an OLED panel that is 100 x 165mm in size and has a pixel count of 480 x 800. And the panel features "excellent color performance, high contrast, high definition and wide viewing angle," said Takashi Yamamoto, manager of the Development Dept in the Transit Media Division of East Japan Marketing & Communications.

The OLED panel is a 7.6-inch product of Chi Mei EL Corp (CMEL) of Taiwan, which is a standard product equivalent to the panel that Eastman Kodak Co uses for its digital photo frame, JR East Mechatronics and East Japan Marketing & Communications said.

"The electronic paper modules used in our previous test were expensive because they were customized to fit in the width of the automatic ticket gate. This time, we reduced costs by employing a standard OLED panel product," said Takao Nakajima, manager of the IC Card Technology Unit and leader of the Digital Advertisement System Development Group of JR East Mechatronics.

The average power consumption of the OLED panel is 5W, equivalent to that of LCD panels, they said. Its product life is 20,000 to 30,000 hours, and it is "fully capable" of being continuously used almost all day, Yamamoto said.

I arrived at the site before the sticker advertisements were removed from the panels and checked the places indicated in the press release. However, I could not tell whether they were stickers or OLED panels at sight because I thought the ads were being displayed on OLED panels at a low luminance. I held that much expectation for the panel's image quality as I did for Sony Corp's OLED TV.

When the operation of the OLED panels started with the stickers being removed, I found the display to be clearly visible from a distance and far more recognizable than the stickers. It seemed that positioning the display at the slightly dim, lower part of the automatic ticket gate worked well.

I felt OLED panels are suited for advertisement, which must be conspicuous. The luminance of the panel is 200cd/m2, and the companies claimed that it is bright enough.

"We need to limit the size and number of characters as we do with stickers because the signage should not attract too much attention and cause the foot traffic to stop," Yamamoto said.