One of the coolest technologies showcased at IFA 2012 come from a long due Sci-Fi dream: transparent screens. The Sci-Fi culture has long dreamed about the next generation screens that will allow us to project user interfaces and at the same time allow us to see through it. From movies like Minority Report to Avatar, transparent screens have been locked to the world and only made possible through CGI graphics.
Well, Samsung has been pushing the boundaries of technology and has been demonstrating different screen technologies since a couple of years ago, including flexible screens, transparent monitors and smart touch-enabled transparent screens. IFA 2012 wasn’t the exception, and Samsung dedicated a good portion of their exhibition hall to showcase a couple of version of the newer transparent displays.
Samsung Smart Window has been showcased since last year and it was also being displayed at IFA 2012. A 42 inches touch-enabled display capable of running desktop-like widgets, videos, applications and the Windows OS itself. Although still in prototype phases (and without clear information about its software capabilities), the screen is capable of running a few apps and widgets.
This includes a curtain simulation to increase or lower the screen transparency, widgets displaying date, time and weather information, and a few videos showcasing how even applications like Microsoft Office will be able to run on screens like this. Still no price information, but I’d assume that the first iterations will be far to expensive for mass consumption.
Another really cool example was a 20 inches square transparent screen that is designed to display products with enhanced digital information. Products can be placed behind the screen, and videos (and eventually applications) can be displayed in the semi-transparent screen to provide additional product information. The demonstration in question was displaying Gucci products while videos were being displayed showcasing the fine crafting and history of the brand.
This screen technology has a huge potential for retail installations since it can provide an augmented reality experience for consumers. It wasn’t clear if this particular display was capable of providing a touch-enabled user interface where users can explore product details and additional information, but I’m sure that Samsung will be able to combine the technologies displayed and future versions will come in extra slim touch-enabled transparent screens in multiple sizes.
You can watch a couple of videos I took from my visit to IFA 2012 Samsung exhibition. The audio is not that good, and I’m not into the filming business, but still, I hope you can see some of the cool bits on them.
If you think about Google Glass, Microsoft’s SmartGlass and future Xbox concepts, Apple’s retail stores and the latest fashion retail installations, it will be easy to see how transparent screens could easily become one of the most wanted technologies in the retail and out-of-home experiences.
Let’s hope a consumer version becomes available soon, so we can start swapping or old fashioned windows at home too !