New patents and technologies have helped Chinese firms make a dent in the global laser display industry, a sector long dominated by Western companies, industry observers said.
The impact is already being felt at some cinemas in Las Vegas and Hollywood in the United States that have adopted Chinese-developed laser projectors for their giant screens.
The projectors feature the use of advanced laser phosphor display (ALPD) developed by Shenzhen-based Appotronics. Featuring high luminance and low costs, it is leading a new generation of laser display technologies.
Li Yi, founder of the private company in China's Guangdong Province, said they have gobbled up 80 percent of China's market for cinema projectors. Its expansion into the global market is expected to challenge the longtime dominance of film projecting technologies by global heavyweights like IMAX and Sony.
Laser display, including laser projectors and laser TVs, used to be an exclusive arena for U.S., Japanese and South Korean brands, but recent reports suggest that Chinese producers are making their way in with new patents and technologies.
According to a report on the laser display industry by the Shanghai Institute of Science, China's patent number in this sector rose to third place in the world after the U.S. and Japan in 2016.
"China's laser display industry has achieved great advances in the past few years to possess a number of patents and a group of leading enterprises," said Xu Feng, an engineer with CCID Think Tank under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technologies.
China's huge and fast-growing market has acted as a catalyst. Data by China Market Monitor, a market analysis company, said the sales of laser TVs in China more than tripled in the first half of 2018. Data service provider AVC also said sales of laser projectors in China increased 48 percent to reach 162,000 sets in the same period.
Private firms have played a key part in the boom. Other than Appotronics, prominent players also include Dvision, which boasts its world-class RGB laser movie projectors, and Seemile whose SLPL technology solves the potential radiation problem of laser display.
Li Yi said private businesses' flexibility in management has given them a special advantage in innovation. The government's latest expression of support for private businesses also made him optimistic.
Challenges also abound. Xu cautioned against a lack of industry standards in China, while Li said Chinese laser companies still rely on imported chips despite their ascendance in some other technologies.
"We've made headway in the global market by getting ahold of key technologies, but innovation needs to be carried on," Li said.