Seven segment displays are widely used around the world. Their utilization ranges across different industries, but their recent growth is often contributed to the expansion of the IoT devices. However, long before that, segmented displays were used in numerous different ways.
Defining What is a Seven Segment Display
Reflective displays are becoming more popular year after year. It is no wonder, as they are extremely much more energy efficient than transflective and transmissive display. Seven segment displays were created to display decimal numerals. With its 7 segments, the display can show numbers from 0 to 9. Additionally, they can also display upper case letters A, C, E, F and lower case letters b and d.
Given their wide use, the most likely place you might have come across one is built into household items, such as kitchen appliances.
Let’s explore how seven segment displays work and where they are most commonly used.
How do Seven Segment Displays Work?
The displays consist of 7 separate segments, hence the name. Each of the segments have two different states; on and off. Different combinations of ‘turned on’ segments are going to result in different numbers and letters.
Segments are labeled with letters starting from “A” to “G”, there is also an optional eight segment for displaying the decimal point.
Controlling the states occurs with 8 digit code of ones and zeroes. For example, number 7 looks like this 1,1,1,0,0,0,0. Number 1 (or HIGH) stand for the state ON, while 0 (or LOW) dictates the state OFF. The Rdot seven segment displays also use a High-Z state for segments that should keep the previous state.
It is also important to mention that seven segment displays can rely on different display technologies. Some of them are based on LCD, while others are LED seven digit displays. Additionally, electrochromic displays can also be seven segment display -- which is the case with Rdot seven segment display.
Common Uses of the Seven Segment Display
Seven segment displays are used in a wide range of devices. Examples include simple calculators, digital clocks, microwave ovens, refrigerators, and plenty of other devices that display numerals.
With the express expansion of IoT, segmented displays have also followed suit, as they can be utilized in numerous ways. Most importantly, seven segment displays are extremely energy efficient and typically low-cost. This makes them useful with IoT, as there are plenty of battery-powered or self-powered IoT devices. When a seven segment display is paired with electrochromic technology, you get an extremely energy efficient display.
Variety of Segmented Displays
Even though the seven segment display is the most popular type of segmented displays, there are other variants available as well. These include the nine segment display, fourteen segment display, and sixteen segment display. Let’s get into the most important details about each of these.
Nine segment display
This segmented display is the most similar to the seven segment display. The two additional segments are placed diagonally: one segment is in the upper part of the display, while the other is in the lower one.
The extra two segments were used in specific circumstances, to help with differentiation with certain characters. Their common use ranges from 70s calculators to digital watches and pagers during the 90s.
Fourteen segment display
Fourteen segment displays are also known as Union Jack display. They are capable of displaying a much higher number of symbols, alphabetical ones specifically. There are additional four diagonal segments, two vertical ones and the middle horizontal one is split into two smaller ones.
Fourteen segment displays also had plenty of different use cases which include pinball machines, slot machines, VCRs, microwave ovens, and calculators.
Sixteen segment display
This display is quite similar to the fourteen segment display. However, on top of the 14 segments, the two additional ones are formed by breaking the top and bottom segment into two. With this many segments, this display has even more flexibility and can display even certain symbols even better than the fourteen digit one.
Their application is similar to the fourteen segment displays. It includes car stereos, VCRs, microwave ovens and telephone Caller ID displays and slot machines.
What is a Seven Segment Display - Concluding Thoughts
We hope that we have helped you figure out what a seven segment display is and how it works. Feel free to explore our ultra-low power seven segment displays.
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