The OLED display isthe next word in home systems displays. The acronym for organic light-emitting diode, OLED takes the light-emitting diode one step further by allowing very bright, very clear graphical images to be created for touchscreens using electrically charged film elements made from carbon-based (i.e., organic) materials, and does it while using far less energy than LCDs—by a factor of 4, according to Universal Display Corp., which holds 940 patents or pending patents for the technology. Their off-axis viewing angle is also far steeper than those on conventional LCD screens.

Home systems developers are starting to pay attention. ELAN Home Systems was one of the first into the OLED market, with its 1.2-inch OLED touchpad integrated into a 4-inch backlit LED panel. The small size of the OLED displays is more than offset by their luminosity. NuVo Technologies’ new WCP wireless control pad uses a 1.6-inch OLED—smaller than the 2.7-inch screen it used for its first foray into the technology in 2006 with its Concerto whole-house audio system’s controller, and later its Essentia line.

Next-generation OLED switches will add more wow factor to functionality: The 15.5 x 11.6mm NKK programmable SmartSwitch OLED module can display graphics for alphanumeric characters, animated sequences, and video in 16-bit resolution and 65,536 colors.