An intelligent choice

Specifying intelligent displays can reduce development costs and cut time to market by at least six months, according to Demmel Products Its not only mobile phones and mp3 players which can benefit from colour-LCDs with appealing and informative graphical user interfaces. In many industrial electronic applications, for example, a display is essential for showing device status or providing operational guidance for the user.

For applications with a small production run however, the cost of developing hardware and software for a panel can easily exceed the devices overall annual production expenditures. Implementing a colour display generally involves six months development time, even for experienced design engineers, leading to overall development costs and subsequent retail prices that can make a product unmarketable.

By implementing intelligent displays, development costs can be drastically reduced and time-to-market can be decreased by at least six months.

Go all inclusive

That’s because intelligent LCDs (iLCDs) developed by Demmel Products include all the components necessary for the operation of the display. High-level commands are used to communicate with the application via RS232, I2C, SPI or USB. Flash memory is available to store graphics, fonts and text components so that even applications with complex screen layouts send no more than a few bytes to the iLCD. Commands can also be saved as macros on the iLCD so a low-cost microcontroller integrated in the application can control the display.

Intelligent LCDs also reduce hardware requirements. A battery-backed real-time clock, interfaces for a keyboard matrix, relays and signal transmitters, as well as additional digital inputs and outputs, are all controlled by the iLCD standard interface. iLCDs are also equipped with a micro SD cardholder and an interface for Ethernet functionality.

Five different colour iLCDS are available, from 3.5 to 10.2in with resolutions of 320 by 240 up to 1024 by 600 pixels. Dimensions are intentionally as small as possible, with iLCDs measuring about 5 mm thicker than traditional TFTs.

Monochrome iLCD panels with the high-level commands are also available. Like the colour iLCDs, they are equipped with LED backlights and designed to operate within the temperature range 20 to 70degC. Touch screens are a standard feature but buyers can specify models without.

Starter and evaluation kits are available for all models, containing cables, a power supply and a CD with set-up and test software.

Always be prepared

After a successful local product launch, companies often decide to enter foreign markets which, in most cases, involves considerable adaptation to the existing application firmware to provide, for example, foreign-language capability.

Not so with the iLCD since all text components are stored in the flash memory, so application firmware does not have to be changed even for language with different fonts. In effect, a traditionally extensive development process can be limited to replacing the iLCDs flash files.

Intelligent displays can be designed into any application that requires a graphical display, including medical electronics, industrial and elevator control systems or measurement equipment. Small and medium quantity applications reap the highest cost reductions, which often result from shorter development times and the added flexibility which the iLCDs brings to any project.