Interview: Ron Mertens at OLED-Info

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I had the opportunity to “interview” Ron Mertens at OLED-Info. OLED-Info is one of the few places where you can find almost everything about OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology, products and market news. I thought you might be interested in finding out more about Ron, so enjoy!

Jin @ DisplayBlog: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Ron @ OLED-Info: I’m a 32 year old software engineer living in Herzelia, Israel near Tel-Aviv. I’ve been working in Israel’s high tech software industry for a few years now. I have worked on cellular modems, a compiler for a network RAID suite, web advertising, travel-related web services and others. I like doing new things! Three months ago our first daughter, Abigail, was born. This is exciting, fun, tiring and difficult all at the same time. She’s our major project currently. 🙂

Jin: What books have you read in the past few months?
Ron: There’s been several birth and child-raising books, which I’m not sure your readers will be so interested in. 😉 A few weeks ago I finished Something Happened by Joseph Heller, one of the best American writers. Catch-22 is one of my favorite books! Something Happened wasn’t an easy book but it was worth it. I also read Getting Things Done by David Allen. It’s a productivity book that I found very helpful as someone who is trying to have a day job, raise a kid, work on OLED-Info and on shareware software–all at the same time. I really recommend this book for everyone. Another book I really recommend is Influence by Robert Cialdini that provides an amazing look into how people can be made to do things they do not want. I think this one is a must-read no matter what you do or who you are.
Jin: Wow. You’re doing all that you’re doing and you’ve read so many books!

Jin: Any interesting projects that you’re working on or just completed?
Ron: I’ve recently redesigned the OLED-Info web page. I’ve been working a lot on the SEO side of the web site–helping Google and other search engins spider the content effectively. The web site is built using the Drupal CMS, which is a great piece of open-source software. Besides OLED-Info (and Abigail…) I’ve been working on some other web sites, mainly mram-info.com, Spintronics-info.com and adding new features to a software application I’m selling online for Adsense publishers.
Jin (thinking): I don’t think this guy sleeps.

Jin: How did you get interested in OLEDs?
Ron: Back in 1998, I was active in an online forum about a certain operating system that is now dead–BeOS. Someone mentioned OLEDs as a way to make things invisible: you just wrap an object with bendable screens, put video cameras on the back of the object and display the back image on the front screen and making you seem as if you are seeing through the object. OLEDs make it possible to make bendable and thin displays. Anyway, I got interested and started learning about OLEDs. One of the first things I did was to buy shares in Universal Displays–a small stake, which wasn’t a good investment at all! Fast forward to 2004: I decided to start a web page about OLEDs to help the OLED professionals and community with some news and resources. Since then OLED-Info has grown to be the web’s leading OLED resource.

Jin: What are the three main benefits of OLEDs?
Ron: The easiest way to understand why OLEDs are so great is to compare them to LCDs. LCDs require the use of a color filter. You place a white light source and for each pixel the color you do not want is filtered out. OLEDs are emmissive so you do not need a backlight and you only light up the colors you need. I think the major benefits are low power consumption, design simplicity and great picture quality. I personally like the fact that OLEDs can product efficient white lighting. The real opportunity here is that OLEDs can be the light bulb of the future. This is more exciting than better TVs!

Jin: Speaking of TVs, when will we see a 32″ OLED TV? Or a 13″ OLED notebook PC? Or a 22″ OLED monitor?
Ron: I believe that in a few months Sony will release a 27″ model (the XEL-2?). Sony has said that the company will do so before May 2009. This will probably be a very expensive TV set just like its 11″ XEL-1, the first commercially available OLED TV. Samsung is planning to commercially release 14″ to 32″ OLED panels soon, probably in 2009 or 2010. It is possible that we might see high-end laptops using those 14.1″ panels. The battery savings will be useful and people might be willing to pay more for such a display. I’m not sure at all when we will actually be able to buy 32″ OLED TVs that are price competitive with LCDs. In my opinion, it will take at least three years, so around 2011.

Jin: What do you think are three main challenges for OLED technology to succeed in the future?
Ron: Cost, lifetime (especially the blue color) and LCD improvements. LCDs are getting so much better all the time. Perhaps we won’t need OLED at all by the time they mature!

Jin: Do you have an OLED product?
Ron: I have an OLED module sent to me by a manufacturer about three years ago. It is a small yellow OLED display. I have seen several OLED products but do not have any products with such a display. 😉 I’m ashamed to say that our TV is still an old and small 27″ CRT. We do not watch a lot of TV–just the ocassional DVD movie or TV series. In fact, we aren’t connected to cable or anything.
Jin: The shame is on Sony for not sending you a XEL-1!

Jin: Who are the top three players in the OLED panel production market, OLED materials market and brands?
Ron: Let’s see. If we’re talking about AMOLED producers, it has to be Samsung, CMEL (Chi Mei EL) and Sony. PMOLED has more players and the major one is RiTdisplay. There are so many OLED material and IP makers: UDC (Universal Display Corporation), CDT (Cambridge Display Technology), Dupont, BASF, Merck, Kodak and many others. I can’t say which ones are the top players. It’s too early to make a call…

So that’s it folks. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Ron Mertens at OLED-Info. Best of luck with everything and congratulations to your new addition: Abigail!

[tags]Ron Mertens, OLED-Info, OLED[/tags]

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