#CES2014 Curved Screens: The first step to Paper Thin & Malleable Displays

When flat screen TVs were first introduced in 1999, home owners were struggling to hide unsightly wires as part of an interior design consideration. Back then, most boxed cathode-ray TVs were sitting inside huge cabinets and had furniture made to conceal the bulky back and wires.

Wall Street Journal article dating back to August 1999 wrote, “...homeowners with flat TVs have a more immediate problem: where to put the things. "Leading furniture makers have yet to introduce any kind of flat cabinet to house the new sets," says John Black, vice president of design and development at Baker Furniture in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”

A flat-screen television cost about US$15,000 back then.

Eventually, interior designers adapted to the technology trend and came up with ways to conceal flat-screen TVs or display them more elegantly.

At CES 2014, the launch of curved screen TVs by major consumer electronic brands, LG and Samsung will once again pose a similar design challenge. How would new technology influence future interior design? Will we be seeing more curvature in our furniture as curved screen TVs receives widespread adoption?

To the average consumer, 4K/8K displays and curved screens may simply signify an increase in viewing pleasure as they seek cinematic (or IMAX-like) immersion within their home theatres.

But the technology that enables curved screens extends the possibilities beyond form. It signifies that the R&D labs of Samsung and LG are making a commitment to bring the cost down for making curved screens so that they may receive widespread adoption like flatscreen TVs in the 90s. The implications: TV display advertising and display screens in areas you won’t expect in the near future e.g. pillars (interactive display ads) and transport vehicles (augmented reality: overlaying traffic information on car window screen)

Last year, Intel, Plastic Logic and Queens University showed a proof-of-concept video of a paper thin tablet called PaperTab.

At CES2014, we saw the company that supplies Amazon’s Kindle tablets screens, E Ink, take paper thin displays one step further. According to an E Ink spokesperson, a flexible E Ink luggage tag is on trial with various airlines. The luggage tag displays flight information and barcodes as well as Near-Field Communication (NFC) capabilities for tracking the luggage. This minimizes paper waste and prevents luggages from being lost as the tag is able to send updates to your smartphone at key points. This technology has also been applied as point-of-sale tags in retail environments.

We reckon these emerging technologies are a step forward into a future of pervasive display advertising and ‘cheap-as-namecards’ thin display screens.