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Commercial Markets Key To 4K Staying Power

Reinforcing the consumer rollout of Ultra High- Definition TVs is the migration of the technology into commercial and signage displays, where manufacturers have already begun seeding early demand.

According to Sanju Khatri, IHS professional and signage display market analyst, the Ultra HD signage and professional displays market is expected to rise from a scant 3,000 units in 2012 to 20,000 to 30,000 in 2013, and that number should double in 2014.

“At the moment the [Ultra HD] displays are catering to a niche market,” Khatri observed. “The early adopters of the Ultra HD products were high-end applications which are required to show very high information content on the screen. Examples of these would be CAD/CAM (architect/ design firms), medical (operating theaters), control room (defense, utilities, telecom, oil/gas), simulation, broadcast/post-production/studio floor.”

“However, as the price of [Ultra HD] displays decreases further (mainly driven by panel prices), there will be a wider adoption,” Khatri continued.

Khatri estimated the commercial market is about 10 percent the unit size of the consumer television market and within that only a fraction has a potential for Ultra HD at launch.

“Historically, the commercial market has lagged behind the TV market by two to three years in terms of new technology adoption,” Khatri said, pointing to the transition from CCFL to LED and HD to FullHD, as examples.

Eventually, IHS expects Ultra HD displays to supplant FullHD 1080p ones in the some professional markets, and FullHD to take the place of HD.

Who the market share leaders in commercial Ultra HD will be is still too early to say, according to Khatri, but “the current market participants are LG, Planar, Sony, Sharp, etc.”

ViewSonic is looking at Ultra HD strictly from the commercial/signage/education market perspective, where fewer competitors and lesser price volatility make for an easier opportunity. Among ViewSonic’s 4K offerings is an 84-inch six-point Ultra HD LCD touchscreen.

“Our strategy is to keep it in the professional, scientific, geographical market, and I’ve also gotten interest from the education, healthcare and surveillance sectors,” said Gene Ornstead, View- Sonic product marketing director. “Because of new graphic card development and with quad-HD screens, you can get into some really interesting applications for the commercial environment with this type of resolution.”

As an example, he said ViewSonic’s interactive 84-inch Ultra HD panel also makes for a very interesting video wall application, without tiling together multiple smaller screens.