Cool glass display technologies at Broadcast Asia 2009

June 19th, 2009 | by Chan Chi-Loong

Communic Asia has been a busy week, with IDA press updates on the iN2015 rollout, extension of wireless@SG for another three years (yay!), and launches of phones by both Sony Ericsson (Satio) and Samsung (Jet).

But sometimes just walking the showfloor can uncover interesting technology gems and surprises, and I came across some cool stuff at Broadcast Asia 2009, a sister event to Communic Asia held concurrently at Expo. At the Singapore pavilion at Broadcast Asia in Hall 8, I came across the 3M Vikuiti rear projection film technology being distributed by Singaporean firm GG Alliance.

communic_vikuiti

What you’re seeing is a video being projected on a glass panel that has the 3M Vikuiti film stuck to it, a thin film layer (about 0.3mm) that can be cut to any shape and stuck to any glass panel from the inside. The projection is behind the glass panel (not in front as I originally thought), and the film is easy to both apply (self-adhesive) and remove.

According to the salesperson I spoke to, any normal projector will do. The quality of the display and the contrast is excellent, and it makes transforming any glass wall into a display showcase a snap as the film can be easily put up and taken down. The applications of this technology are endless, and were it not the price point — 10m x 1.2m of the 3M Vikuiti film costs about S$10,000 — it would have even more potential.

Just next door was LivingLife Concepts, another Singaporean distributor, showcasing smart film, also another kind of special film applied to glass. The film has two modes, an “off” opaque mode, and an “on” transparent mode that is activated when a current is switched on. Basically, any glass wall can become an opaque screen for privacy. It’s easier to see the effect in the YouTube video below:

What’s more, the smart film also allows images to be projected on it via back projection. By combining it with another kind of touch sensitive film on the front of the glass panel, the whole glass screen can be used as an interactive glass display.

communic_smartfilm

For example, on display at the booth was this Google earth map application that could be manipulated and used as a giant touch interactive LCD screen — using your fingers you can zoom in and rotate out. The sales manger also switched to a powerpoint presentation and showed how you use your fingers to move the slides.

However, it’s not a LCD screen; it’s a glass panel that could also become opaque or transparent according to the needs required. The possibilities for advertising use are enormous, but again, the price point is still a little high — about US$12,000 for the entire smart film, touch sensitive film and projection system.

When the price point comes down a little, perhaps minority report styled screens (minus the hologram projection part) won’t be such a thing of the future.

On display at Broadcast Asia were a host of other interesting display technologies like 3D display panels, and thin LCD displays that could be wrapped around pillars and attached to curved walls. In my opinion, this year’s Broadcast Asia is pretty good compared to previous years. It has more booths and brand names (like Panasonic, who decided to set up a booth here rather than in Communic Asia) and is worth a look.

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