Deep Space

In Dubai, organic LED signage panels cap an aquarium with flowing curves, immersive colors and the deepest black of any electronic signage.
The OLED video wall above the Dubai Aquarium is lighter than equivalent LED displays and features better contrast and deeper blacks.

The search for digital signage with more vibrant colors, deeper blacks and thinner profiles takes us to Dubai, where wave-like organic LED (OLED) signage sits atop a vast aquarium, showing off the advantages of this burgeoning technology. OLEDs are fundamentally different than LED displays that essentially use LED backlights in an LCD display. Instead, OLEDs comprise many layers of organic materials sandwiched between conductors that sit on a rigid or flexible substrate. The resulting film is emissive in its own right, making it thinner (to 0.3 in.) and lighter in weight. 

“Unlike LED, OLED technology creates its own light, meaning each pixel can be individually controlled and turned on or completely off, resulting in perfect black levels, greater detail in darker areas and negligible light bleed. This results in superb images with the deepest possible blacks, infinite contrast ratios and lifelike colors as well as wider viewing angles than conventional backlit displays,” said Derek DiGudlielmo of LG Electronics (Seoul, South Korea). LG partnered with Emaar Entertainment (Dubai, United Arab Emirates), a provider of leisure and entertainment venues, to create the flowing OLED signage over the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in the Dubai Mall. Previous static signage was replaced with 55-in. 820 LG OLED Open Frame displays configured with both convex and concave curves, creating a video wall that set Guinness World Records for the largest OLED screen, largest HD video wall (7,600 sq. ft.) and highest resolution video wall with 1.7 billion pixels.

Despite the installation’s enormity – it’s 170 ft. wide and 45 ft. tall – the installation was achieved in just three months. The support structure, constructed in Dubai, is mounted to a concrete wall on top of the aquarium roof that extends behind the large tank. “OLEDs are particularly fitting for this installation because the curved form factor of the display follows the undulations of flowing water. The lighter weight also made it the practical choice,” DiGudlielmo said. 

Though the superior contrast and deeper blacks of OLEDs can be seen in pictures, there is nothing like viewing OLED displays in person, as do the thousands of aquarium visitors each year. DiGudlielmo says the black levels for OLED versus LED are like the difference between a movie theater screen when off versus being in a completely black room. With regard to contrast ratio, LED displays are around 1,000:1 (whites are 1,000 times brighter than black) but with OLED this ratio is closer to 1,000,000:1. 

LG has installed several other OLED public art pieces, including on the elevator walls to the observatory in Lotte World Tower and a 140-panel curved installation at the Incheon International Airport, both in Seoul. With the adoption of OLED displays on leading-edge phones from Apple and Samsung, OLED signage and TVs, we can expect consumer engagement with OLEDs to continue.


Signs of the Times April 2020

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