At American Eagle, Prysm’s Laser Displays Banish the Bezel; Startup to Present at Tonight’s 5×5 Event

12/8/10Follow @wroush

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red, green, and blue phosphors. LPDs work along roughly similar principles—there’s a panel on the tube’s business end finely lined with red, green, and blue phosphors. But in Prysm’s case, the video signal is carried to the phosphors by laser beams, which are generated by the same inexpensive blue lasers used in Blu-Ray disc players and aimed using a series of lenses and a spinning mirror.

I visited Prysm’s San Jose headquarters last week, and got to see how the company assembles the individual displays into huge, tiled video walls with nearly invisible seams between the tiles. Software divides up the images and sends a portion to each tile, while constantly rebalancing the brightness of each tile to match its neighbors.

Prysm’s walls are larger than the largest LCD screens, far brighter than projection screens, and far more detailed than LED displays of the type that adorn Times Square and Tokyo’s Ginza. They also require less electricity than these competing technologies, and don’t put out a lot of heat, meaning they don’t require special cooling or ventilation like most other large video installations. “It’s the ability to cross over the other technologies that makes [LPDs] really unique,” says Corey.

Prysm displays at American Eagle OutfittersWith its first-generation displays largely perfected, the company has spent the last year “setting the stage for distribution of the product around the world,” says Corey. That includes building a serious sales and customer-support operation. But Prysm isn’t selling its displays to everyone who knocks on the door. “We’re deploying carefully,” says Amit Jain, Prysm’s CEO. “You want to be sure of the performance and make sure if your name is out there, its in the best possible light. We’re picking and choosing engagements and verticals.”

So, do these big displays require big content? Not for now. A single LPD screen has an effective resolution of 320 x 240 pixels, so it would take 30 of them to match the resolution of a single 1920 x 1200 computer monitor. “You’re not talking about a resolution that you can’t capture,” says Corey. For the Soho video pillars, American Eagle is using video cribbed from its own website.

In the future, though, Prysm expects that customers will shoot and edit video with the potentially unusual sizes and shapes of the video walls in mind. “Customers look at it as a creative platform,” says Brodie Keast, Prysm’s chief marketing officer. “Their marketing teams will be inspired to deliver compelling content. But it’s a brand new thing, so it will take a little time.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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