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Through the glass: Transparent OLED reaches beds, restaurants, subways



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A dinner at a sushi bar flips through the options on a 55-inch transparent OLED screen.

LG Display

This story is part of CES, where our editorial staff will give you the latest news and the hottest facilities for the completely virtual CES 2021

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LG Display, the company that produces OLED panels used in TVs from LG, Sony, Vizio and others around the world, also demonstrate some of the coolest, most futuristic concept technology at CES. The private fair is where I first made me smoke off an 18-inch OLED in 2016, where I experienced it even crazier 65-inch version two years later. That’s where I am, too sniffed OLED flowers and relaxed in one OLED-lined airport.

With CES 2021 goes virtual I do not get the chance to experience the fair in person, but the company’s online showroom is the second best. The focus this year is on new transparent OLED screens, which LGD has improved to provide 40% transparency, compared to 10% for current generations. Screens you can see through are not new – LGD has been touring them for a while in commercial applications, and earlier this year Xiaomi began selling transparent 55-inch TVs in China for $ 7,200 per pop. LGD, the only transparent OLED manufacturer in the world, supplies these panels, but as usual it does not talk about specific products for sale with its latest concepts.

The online showroom will demonstrate the following scenarios, each with a 55-inch transparent OLED screen.

  • Smart bed: Press a button and the transparent OLED screen rises from a frame at the foot of the bed to display TV series or other information. The screen itself acts as a speaker – a feature found on some current OLED TVs – and LG says that the frame and the transparent screen can be moved to other areas of the house.
  • Restaurant partition: Displayed as part of a sushi bar, the screen between customers and the chef can display menu items or video while people wait for their food, while viewers can watch the chef at work and maintain the integrity of a partition.
  • Subway Window: A window installed on a subway train can display route information, weather, news and maps while riders look outside at the view.
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A 55-inch transparent OLED screen provides an informative subway window.

LG Display

LGD says that the demand for transparent screens is increasing in smart homes and buildings, as well as driverless cars, planes and subways. Of the three scenarios in the virtual showroom in 2021, “smart bed” seems at least useful to me, but it is easy to imagine a future where such screens are so cheap and ubiquitous that video or information can be displayed on any normal transparent surface, from windows to coffee tables to glasses to glasses. It’s not as impressive as a roll-up TV, but it’s arguably more practical.

One great thing about virtual CES is that for the first time, stalls that were private in person can be made more accessible. LG Display says that the online showroom will be open to all visitors during CES 2021.


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