GB2431037A - Display formed by scanning picture elements - Google Patents

Display formed by scanning picture elements Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2431037A
GB2431037A GB0517763A GB0517763A GB2431037A GB 2431037 A GB2431037 A GB 2431037A GB 0517763 A GB0517763 A GB 0517763A GB 0517763 A GB0517763 A GB 0517763A GB 2431037 A GB2431037 A GB 2431037A
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Prior art keywords
picture elements
picture element
picture
rotation
array
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Withdrawn
Application number
GB0517763A
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GB0517763D0 (en )
Inventor
Roy Booth
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Roy Booth
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Classifications

    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F11/00Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the complete information is permanently attached to a movable support which brings it to the display position
    • G09F11/02Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the complete information is permanently attached to a movable support which brings it to the display position the display elements being secured to rotating members, e.g. drums, spindles
    • G09F11/025Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the complete information is permanently attached to a movable support which brings it to the display position the display elements being secured to rotating members, e.g. drums, spindles the members being rotated simultaneously, each face of the member carrying a part of the sign
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F9/00Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements
    • G09F9/30Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements in which the desired character or characters are formed by combining individual elements
    • G09F9/302Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements in which the desired character or characters are formed by combining individual elements characterised by the form or geometrical disposition of the individual elements
    • GPHYSICS
    • G09EDUCATION; CRYPTOGRAPHY; DISPLAY; ADVERTISING; SEALS
    • G09FDISPLAYING; ADVERTISING; SIGNS; LABELS OR NAME-PLATES; SEALS
    • G09F9/00Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements
    • G09F9/30Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements in which the desired character or characters are formed by combining individual elements
    • G09F9/37Indicating arrangements for variable information in which the information is built-up on a support by selection or combination of individual elements in which the desired character or characters are formed by combining individual elements being movable elements

Abstract

A display comprises a two-dimensional array of multi-faced picture elements or pixels. An actuator 8 is scanned over the array in order to engage with and rotate at least some of the picture elements such that selected faces 1, 2, 3, are brought into view thereby constructing an overall image. The orientation of a picture element may be determined prior to rotation, e.g. via labels 12 and sensors 11, and the total rotation applied to a picture element may comprise a series of quantised angles of rotation. The picture element array may be moveable relative to a transparent viewing screen (13, fig. 3) such that the picture elements, when brought into contact with the screen, may rotatably align their faces into a parallel relationship with the screen, the picture elements, once aligned, being prevented by the screen from further rotation. Alternate sections of the array may move relative to one another thus allowing selective rotation of four-faced picture elements (see fig. 5). The actuator may bring a selected face into view irrespective of the initial rotational position of the picture element, and columns or rows of picture elements may be translucent such that light shone into the ends of the rows or columns provides a back-lit display.

Description

1 2431037 Scanned Pixel Array Image Display This invention relates to a

device for displaying text and graphical images using an array of picture elements (pixels).

There are a number of technologies already in existence for displaying text and graphics in a pixel array form.

One such technology uses an array of either square or round Light Emitting Diodes (LED5) which are illuminated in accordance with a pattern stored in an electronic memory device.

Such displays are commonplace and used to indicate such things as products and services, special offers, bus route information etc. Unfortunately this type of display technology suffers from two main drawbacks.

Firstly, the display consumes electricity to produce the visual output, even when the information isn't changing. This problem is greatly exacerbated if the display needs to be visible outdoors, potentially in direct sunlight.

Secondly, although multi-coloured LED arrays are available they tend to be quite expensive thereby restricting most applications to a single colour.

An alternative technology exists in the form of the flip-dot' display. This type of technology uses an array of electromagnets to cause coloured discs of material to pivot about an axis of rotation.

The discs are normally coated with a high visibility reflective material on one side and a matt black finish on the other. The array of magnets and the supporting frame are also typically finished in matt black.

The text and graphical information is produced by selectively energising certain electromagnets which cause the associated discs to rotate so that their high-visibility sides are presented to the viewer. The viewing area around the remaining de-energised electromagnets appears black to the viewer.

As with the LED alternative, the flip-dot' technology also suffers from two distinct drawbacks.

Firstly, the display is restricted to two colours only, typically a bright yellow

presented against a black background.

Secondly, the mechanical reliability of the entire array can become a problem.

The force experienced by each coloured disc as a result of the nearby electromagnetic field changes quite dramatically as each disc rotates into position. The electromagnets need to be sufficiently sized as to be able to cause each disc to pull-in' reliably without exerting excessive force once they have rotated into position.

As few as one or two stuck' or orphan' pixels are typically visible and detract considerably from the overall display.

A problem which is common to both LED and flip-dot' arrays is the fact that the number of active elements and thereby the manufacturing cost increases quite dramatically as the horizontal and vertical resolution of the display is increased.

For example, a flip-dot' array made up of fifty rows by fifty columns would have two-thousand five hundred electromagnets. If the example display were extended to a more useful resolution of fifty rows by one hundred columns this would increase the total number of electromagnets to five thousand.

To overcome these problems, the present invention proposes a display means whereby an image is constructed by scanning an actuating element or elements over a two-dimensional array of multi-faced picture elements in such a way that the actuating element or elements selectively engage with and rotate some or all of the picture elements thereby bringing selected faces into view and thus constructing the overall image.

The advantages of such an arrangement are that a multi-coloured pixel array display can be constructed relatively cheaply which is easily visible in direct sunlight and which consumes energy only when the display content is being modified.

Preferably the actuating elements will be attached to a carriage which extends across one dimension of the picture element array and which is traversed back and forth across the plane of pixel array in the perpendicular dimension.

Preferably each element of the picture element array will be locked in place following an update cycle by holding the pixel array against a transparent screen e.g. a sheet of glass.

This invention will now be described solely by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which: Figure 1 shows single picture element mounted on a support spindle.

Figure 2 depicts an actuating mechanism with dual drive bars adjacent to two picture elements.

Figure 3 depicts a section of a pixel array with multiple actuators fixed to a moveable back-plate and a transparent viewing screen.

Figure 4 illustrates a view from above a pixel array to illustrate the direction of travel of the write heads and the locking' action caused as a result of moving the pixels against the viewing screen.

Figure 5 illustrates how a display could be constructed using four-colour pixels.

Figure 6 depicts a self-correcting' pixel drive arrangement.

Figure 7 illustrates how three self-correcting' pixel drive arrangements would be used.

Figure 8 demonstrates how back-lighting' could be implemented.

Figure 1 illustrates a three-faced pixel element with different coloured faces (1), (2) and (3). The faces are joined to triangular top and bottom plates (4) which can be made of a transparent or translucent material if a back-lit display is required.

The three-dimensional triangular block comprising faces (1), (2), (3) and (4) is fixed to a support spindle (7) by means of a bearing (6) which maintains its position on the spindle but allows it to rotate freely.

A toothed wheel (5) is attached to the top plate (4) to allow the assembly comprising faces (1), (2), (3) and (4) to be rotated by an external toothed drive bar.

Figure 2 illustrates an observer viewing the front faces of two picture elements. The elements have detectable labels' (12) fitted in each corner which are sensed by sensors (11) mounted on a moving carrier' (8). The carrier' (8) has two electromagnetic solenoids (10) which cause linear gear assemblies (9) to move away from and back toward the carrier' (8).

To change the colour of the displayed picture elements the carrier' assembly (8) is moved from left-to-right across the two picture elements. The right-hand sensor (11) identifies the label' (12) of the first picture element and determines how much the picture element needs to be rotated to present the selected face (1), (2) or (3) to the observer.

If the picture element is already displaying the desired face the carrier' (8) simply passes the first pixel without actuating either of the two solenoids (10).

However, if the label (12) indicates the pixel needs to be rotated then either one or both of the solenoids (10) will be energised before the carrier (8) passes the picture element to cause either a 120 degree or a 240 degree rotation.

The carrier' (8) scans the remaining picture element in a similar way i.e. using the sensor (11) to determine the current position of the picture element and the solenoids (10) to effect any required rotation.

A sensor (11)is fitted at both ends of the carrier' to enable operation in both a left-to-right and a right-to-left scan. This a'lows a display to be constructed whereby an image is updated with a single scan, either left-to-right or right-to- left depending upon where the carrier' (8) was parked' prior to the update.

Figure 3 shows a display section with three carriers' (8) fixed to a moving carriage' (14) with six solenoid actuated gear bars (9). The spindle (7) allows the vertical column of picture elements to be moved towards the path of the actuation carriage' (14) or towards a transparent observation window (13).

The diagram illustrates how a number of carriers' (8) can be stacked' together via a carriage' arrangement (14) to cause all the picture elements of one vertical column to be simultaneously updated in a single horizontal pass' of the carriage' (14).

This idea can also be seen in figure 4 which depicts a view looking down into the top of a display with six triangular picture element columns. The carriage' (14) is driven back and forth along support rails (15) by a motor and gearbox arrangement which forms part of the displays control system (19).

Flexible cables (20) connect the solenoid drivers of the carriage' (14) to the control system (19). A motor-gearbox arrangement is also included in the control section (19) to cause the support bars (16), which hold the spindles (7) of all the picture element columns, to move along guide rails (17) using bearings (18).

For the sake of clarity assume the carriage' (14) to be initially at the left-most end of its travel i.e. adjacent to the control system (19) and the support bars (16) to be in such a position as to hold the picture elements against the transparent viewing screen (13).

The control system (19) would update the display by first operating the associated motor-gearbox to cause the support rails (16) to retract away from the transparent screen (13) to a position where the toothed wheels of the picture element columns could be accessed by the actuators on the carriage' arrangement (14) and the triangular picture elements would have enough clearance from the screen (13) to permit rotation.

The control system (19) would then operate the associated motor-gearbox combination to cause the carriage' (14) to move from left-to-right across the display area. Using feedback from the sensors on each carrier' the control system would activate the numerous solenoid drivers to cause each picture element in the same vertical column to be selectively dragged along' (i.e. rotated about its axis) with the movement of the carriage' (14) as it passed each column.

Once the carriage' (14) had arrived at the right-most end of its travel, i.e. had scanned all six picture element columns, the motor-gearbox arrangement in the control system (19) would be operated in reverse to drive the support rails (16) back towards the transparent screen (13) in such a way as to lock the individual picture elements against the screen (13).

A similar cycle would occur every time the display required an update i.e. the picture element columns would be pulled back from the screen (13), the carriage' (14) would make a traversal across the display area causing selected picture elements to be rotated to expose new faces then the picture element columns would be returned back towards the screen (13) to prevent unwanted rotation of the individual picture elements.

Note: an alternative arrangement is conceivable whereby the picture element columns remain fixed and the transparent screen (13) moves away from the picture elements during a scan' and then returns to its locking position. The downside to such an arrangement is that during a power fail condition the transparent screen (13) may return against a column of pixels which where being rotated by the solenoid drivers. The force of the screen (13) pressing against the partially rotated pixel elements could impart a force back through the toothed-wheels to the solenoid drive arrangement.

Such a situation could be circumvented if the solenoid drivers were designed to be fail-safe' i.e by using a return-spring arrangement to cause the plungers to retract under the loss of electrical power. A reset sequence would then need to be performed at every power-up' which moved the screen (13) away, moved the carriage' (14) to one end of its travel, replaced the screen (13) to cause each pixel to be pushed flat, removed the screen (13) a second time, performed a full scan of the carriage' (14) to set every picture element accordingly before finally replacing the screen (13) again.

Yet another possibility is shown in figure 5. Here two separate sets of support rails (21) and (22) are used to move the picture element columns either against the transparent screen (13) or back towards the path of the carriage' (14). The support rails (21) and (22) are arranged in such a way that the odd- numbered and even-numbered picture element columns can be moved independent of each other This allows each picture element to be square in geometry i.e. allows a choice of four colours. One disadvantage to such an arrangement is that it takes two passes of the carriage' (14) to completely update the display. For example, the odd-numbered columns might be pulled away from the screen (13) and updated during a left-toright pass of the carriage' (14). These would then be moved back towards the screen (13) and the even-numbered columns pulled back towards the path of the carriage' (14). The return pass i.e. right-to-left of the carriage' (14) would be used to update these picture elements before they were also repositioned against the screen (13).

An alternative to using a sensing means on each actuator carrier' to determine the orientation of a picture element prior to rotating it is shown in figure 6. This shows a toothed-wheel (25) that could be used to a drive a picture element (i.e. similar to that labelled (5) in figure 1) but where a section of the toothed surface has purposefully been removed.

The wheel is turned by the action of the actuator bar (24) moving past its axis of rotation. However, the missing section of the toothed surface is arranged such that it causes the wheel (25) to disengage with the bar (24) when the picture element has rotated to a particular position i.e. with a chosen face turned to view.

The number of teeth on the actuator bar (24) is sufficient that one full pass of the bar will cause the wheel (25) to rotate to the parked' position irrespective of its start position and irrespective of the direction of travel of the actuator bar (24) Figure 7 illustrates how the principle is applied by attaching three toothed- wheels (25) to a picture element, each wheel being rotated 120 degrees with respect to each other. The wheels (25) are individually driven by three separate actuator bars (24) mounted on a carrier' (8).

As the carrier' (8) approaches the picture element one of the three actuator bars (24) is selected. This causes a degree of rotation such that a face corresponding to the chosen actuator is brought into view. Using such an arrangement each picture element can be set to a chosen position simply by activating a particular actuator bar (24) and then allowing the carrier' (8) to pass by the picture element.

Thus the picture element will always rotate to a position whereby the selected face is displayed irrespective of its starting position and irrespective of the direction of travel of the carrier (8) and without the need for any position sensing system.

Such an arrangement would allow a display array to be updated quite quickly and potentially more reliably since each picture element would be positively keyed into position. Unfortunately a couple of drawbacks are inherent in the design.

Firstly, each picture element needs three toothed wheels (25) and each actuator needs three solenoids and three geared bars (24). This adds to the overall system complexity and cost.

Secondly, the arrangement requires that an increased gap be left between the individual picture elements on a support spindle to accommodate the extra toothed-wheels. This tends to introduce a striped' effect to the image displayed.

Note: the concept demonstrated by figures 6 and 7 could also be extended to the four-colour picture element arrangement shown in figure 5. However, four toothed wheels and corresponding actuator bars would be required which would serve to exacerbate the problems already highlighted for the three wheel system.

Note also that the proposed variations of the example implementation described above have focused upon the notion of using a carriage' (14) and a number of actuators sufficient to cause an entire picture element column to be effected in a single pass.

This would be the most likely arrangement for a typical display requiring a relatively quick update rate. However, the ideas already expanded could equally be applied to a display system where a smaller number of actuators are scanned across the display area in a two dimensional pattern.

In the limit, a display could be constructed using only a single actuator mechanism which was scanned across the entire two-dimensional display array. This would allow significant cost reductions, particularly for large displays but would severely extend the time required to completely update the display.

Figure 8 demonstrates the fact that if translucent or transparent material is used for the end plates (4) of each picture element then a light source or sources (26) can be shone into each end of a picture element column to cause a back-lit effect. The effect would be enhanced if the toothed-wheels (5) were also made out of translucent or transparent materials e.g. a tough clear plastic.

Claims (4)

  1. Claims 1: A display means whereby an image is constructed by scanning an
    actuating element or elements over a two-dimensional array of multi-faced picture elements in such a way that the actuating element or elements selectively engage with and rotate some or all of the picture elements thereby bringing selected faces into view and thus constructing the overall image.
  2. 2: A display means according to claim 1 whereby the orientation of a picture element is determined by a sensing means before any rotation is applied.
  3. 3: A display means according to claims I and 2 whereby the total rotation applied to a picture element is provided as a series of one or more quantised angles of rotation.
  4. 4. A display means according to claims 1 2 or 3 whereby the picture element array is able to be moved relative to a transparent viewing screen in such a way as to provide a means of aligning the picture elements and preventing unwanted rotation.
    5: A display means according to claims 1, 2, 3 or 4 whereby alternate sections of the picture element array can be moved relative to each other to facilitate the use of picture elements with four active faces 6: A display means according to claims 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 in which each picture element is rotated using an actuation mechanism which automatically brings into view a selected face irrespective of the initial rotational orientation of the picture element.
    7: A display means according to claims 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 in which columns or rows of picture elements are arranged in such a way and constructed of appropriate materials such that when light is shone into one or both ends of the row or column it produces a back-lit display
GB0517763A 2005-09-01 2005-09-01 Scanned pixel array image display Withdrawn GB0517763D0 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0517763A GB0517763D0 (en) 2005-09-01 2005-09-01 Scanned pixel array image display

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB0517763A GB0517763D0 (en) 2005-09-01 2005-09-01 Scanned pixel array image display

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GB0517763D0 GB0517763D0 (en) 2005-10-12
GB2431037A true true GB2431037A (en) 2007-04-11

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Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3949392A (en) * 1973-10-26 1976-04-06 Caritato Limited Multi-element display apparatus for displaying different patterns or information
US4177458A (en) * 1977-01-24 1979-12-04 Nihon Advanced Products Kabushiki Kaisha Display panel and display elements therefor
FR2610438A1 (en) * 1987-01-30 1988-08-05 Fontalirant Eric Display element formed by a cube with a display toothing and an erase toothing, display panel comprising such display elements and display system
US4761905A (en) * 1986-09-30 1988-08-09 Black Fred M Scanned electromechanical display
WO1992012507A1 (en) * 1991-01-02 1992-07-23 Andrew Barton Display assemblies
US6028582A (en) * 1995-12-18 2000-02-22 Reader Vision, Inc. Solenoid for scanned flip-disk sign improvements

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US3949392A (en) * 1973-10-26 1976-04-06 Caritato Limited Multi-element display apparatus for displaying different patterns or information
US4177458A (en) * 1977-01-24 1979-12-04 Nihon Advanced Products Kabushiki Kaisha Display panel and display elements therefor
US4761905A (en) * 1986-09-30 1988-08-09 Black Fred M Scanned electromechanical display
FR2610438A1 (en) * 1987-01-30 1988-08-05 Fontalirant Eric Display element formed by a cube with a display toothing and an erase toothing, display panel comprising such display elements and display system
WO1992012507A1 (en) * 1991-01-02 1992-07-23 Andrew Barton Display assemblies
US6028582A (en) * 1995-12-18 2000-02-22 Reader Vision, Inc. Solenoid for scanned flip-disk sign improvements

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