Site: Piastr Engineering and Commercial Enterprise
Post Office Box 25
St. Petersburg 198261
Russian Federation
Telephone: (812) 355-9916
Fax: (812) 213-2563 PIASTR

Date Visited: October 25 and October 29, 1993

Report Author: J. Larimer

ATTENDEES

WTEC:

J. Larimer
E.C. Urban
W. Doane (10/25 only)
Z. Yaniv (10/25 only)

HOSTS:

Valerie A. Ivanov ; Director
Sergei M. Romanov
Two other Piastre representatives (engineers)

BACKGROUND

Piastr is a company formed by a small group of engineers who had previously worked in the military aerospace industry in the former Soviet Union. The engineers are now loosely associated with Pribor, a military aerospace developer and manufacturer of aerospace subsystem components such as aircraft flight recorders and vibration control systems. As the state has reduced or eliminated funding to these industries, groups such as the Piastr group have left their former employers and formed commercial enterprises. Pribor is now looking for nonmilitary business to develop.

Pribor is providing research and development space for Piastr. The apparent desire of both parties is that as Piastr's business develops, Pribor could become the manufacturer of Piastr displays or at least parts of them.

The Piastr group had formerly worked as electrical engineers who designed frame stores, addressing hardware and drivers for small plasma displays for military aircraft. The engineers have formed the company Piastr to build and sell display systems. Piastr is not a manufacturer of the plasma display itself.

Piastr currently obtains plasma displays from an institution near Moscow. Piastr is a systems integrator who adds the necessary electronic components to make the plasma tubes into a functioning display.

The WTEC team saw a 128 mm x 128 mm working aircraft plasma display. Piastr also has a plasma tile that can be used to build a variety of displays from a very large area, 3,200 mm x 4,000 mm, to banners, 200 mm x 1,600 mm. The tiles are two squares fused together to form a tiling element that is 200 mm x 400 mm, with 32 x 64 triad picture elements. The team saw two displays constructed from these tiles. One was a banner that was 200 mm x 1,600 mm, and the other was a large screen that was 800 mm x 800 mm. The banner was used to display text, and the large square for displaying video. They were both easily seen in bright room light. Because of the large picture element pitch, they were both best seen from a distance of several meters. Piastr recommends viewing distances of 5-200 m.

The large tiled displays require large supplies of power. The 1,200 mm x 1,600 mm display requires 2.5 kW. The power supplies and electronics currently occupy a large volume. For the electronics, the volume required is due primarily to the low scale of integration of the chips employed.

Substantial volume reductions are possible if chips from TI could be used in the design. The TI chips would also improve reliability.

Piastr sees its market as large information and sales displays. The company is currently trying to sell to transportation companies that would use the displays to post schedules. Piastr also is trying to get its displays used at sports arenas to display scores and other types of information. The company's marketing appears to be targeted at a niche that requires large and relatively flat displays that would be viewed from a distance of 5-100 m. Piastr is actively seeking a western business partner who would support the company's efforts, especially in the automated advertising display business.


Published: December 1994; WTEC Hyper-Librarian