LCD Technology in the Test and Measurement Equipment Industry
Even though LCDs are still a widespread technology today, you might be surprised to know that the first LCD was invented in 1964 — over half a century ago. Since then, they’ve become an instrumental part of numerous industries, accounting for 95% of all flat panel display sales. One of these industries includes the test and measurement equipment industry.
LCD technology combines accuracy, versatility, and user-friendliness, making it a perfect fit for electrical and electronic systems. When they’re incorporated into devices such as multimeters, data acquisition systems, frequency counters, and more, LCDs are the technology of choice for the display requirements.
The Evolution and Principles of LCD Technology
The liquid crystals that make up LCDs were discovered in 1888. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s that people were able to find applications for them. Thus, the first LCD was born. Researchers and chemists worked tirelessly to improve their stability at room temperature, their optimal properties, and, eventually, a variety of new LCD applications.
LCDs work by functioning as a valve — they either allow light to pass through or block it. These displays consist of two pieces of glass, with liquid between the two to manipulate polarized light. Unlike a lot of other image technologies, it doesn’t generate light itself, like LEDs and plasma displays. Without an additional light source, they are difficult to read. Alleviating this issue is often as simple as installing a backlight behind the LCD.
In older models of test and measurement equipment, Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) were the most common displays used. Thanks to their color accuracy, high luminance, and ability to show deep blacks, they were commonly used in signal generators, oscilloscopes, and other devices. However, because LCD technology has continued to advance and improve, the use of CRT has slowly died down. While most LCDs now utilize LED backlighting, a historic review of the LCD backlighting options is available here.
LCDs are generally thinner and lighter, which work more efficiently when it comes to compact setups. They’re also a lot more energy efficient both while operating and on standby. While CRTs feature great color accuracy, they also have a flickering display. LCDs, conversely, exhibit consistent, sharp, and clear screens with high resolution.
LCD Technology in the Test and Measurement Industry
Test and measurement equipment is relevant in a wide spectrum of sectors, from healthcare to telecommunications and engineering. LCD technology plays a big role in the performance of these devices.
For example, if we take a look at oscilloscopes, LCD technology can provide a display capable of creating clear and sharp waveforms, which means greater accuracy when reading measurements. With signal generators and analyzers, their sharp contrast ratios enable easy-to-read displays with highly visible measurement data to reduce errors during data interpretation. Even for multimeters, LCD technology provides top-notch visibility regardless of external lighting conditions, making it easier for technicians to diagnose and fix electrical issues.
Another bonus is that LCDs are customizable. With a variety of different formats and sizes, they can adapt to a range of diverse applications within each industry.
Advantages of LCD Technology in the Test and Measurement Equipment Industry
LCDs have a whole host of advantages they bring to the test and measurement equipment industry. Let’s take a look:
• Superior Display Quality
LCDs have sharp and clear displays owing to their high resolution and high contrast ratio. They can generate brighter whites, deeper blacks, and outstanding pixel density to produce finer details and a stable display. With wider viewing angles as well, people operating a piece of equipment can enjoy a much more efficient test and measurement process.
• High Energy Efficiency
Having a lower power consumption prolongs the life of battery-operated equipment and also contributes to lower operating costs. LCDs don’t generate light, as stated, but rather modulate it, which is why they require less power to operate. Along with less mass and the development of power-saving modes, LCDs continue to become more and more energy-efficient.
• Compact and Lightweight
LCDs have a slim and compact design, making many devices a lot easier to handle and improving their portability. This offers a huge benefit, especially in small spaces or applications where mobility is key.
Built to last and withstand diverse environments, their toughness alone makes them a great choice for situations that involve wide temperature variations or high levels of humidity, for example. With their extended lifespan as well, a properly maintained LCD can provide years of service, bringing in serious cost savings in the long run.
• User-Friendly Experience
Other than clear visibility and high resolution, a lot of other features of LCD technology make it extremely user-friendly. For instance, test and measurement devices that have LCDs often have touch-screen capabilities, where users can conveniently use gestures rather than buttons or dials. There’s also the option to display help texts or guides right on the screen for on-screen assistance. Looking at advanced functionalities, some LCDs even have multilayer displays to show multiple layers of information at one time.
• Brightness and Backlighting
LCDs typically have bright and consistent lighting from backlighting, which ensures they’re readable in varying light conditions. By design, reading and interpreting data from these devices is easy at any time of day, in any location. There are even specific sunlight-readable LCDs for outdoor applications. Such technology could be applied to certain pieces of equipment in the test and measurement industry. Alternatively, if an LED backlight is too power hungry, there are transflective and reflective polarizers that can allow a display to function effectively without it.
LCDs are adaptable to a range of sizes and formats. This renders them useful for a wider range of equipment in different industries. Whether small handheld multimeters or larger benchtop devices, manufacturers can customize LCDs to their liking.
After our analysis, it’s clear that LCD technology’s impact on the test and measurement industry is without parallel. It’s brought forth clear, energy-smart displays and improved the user experience and interaction significantly. Shifting to LCD means transforming day-to-day operations in your industry, making processes more versatile, accurate, and efficient.