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Multitasking monitor does double duty

State-of-the-art monitor from Sharp simultaneously displays two different images depending on the viewer's angle. Photo: Sharp's dual display

A new TV monitor from Sharp could soon end a common source of household strife--choosing a channel. But it may mean sitting at the opposite end of the couch from your honey.

The new liquid crystal display, which should hit stores this month, will be the first mass-produced monitor capable of displaying different images at the same time depending on the angle at which viewers are watching, Sharp said on Thursday.

Sharp says the technology, which it calls "two-way viewing-angle LCD," is useful for a number of things. For instance, one person could watch a TV program while another surfs the Web with the same monitor. In a car, the monitor might display a map for the driver while playing a movie for passengers.

Sharp dual-image monitor

The screen could also function as a double-duty billboard, displaying different advertisements at the same time. A salesperson could use it for meetings with customers, keeping certain confidential data from view, Sharp said.

However, watching different TV shows or movies at the same time creates a problem--overlapping sound. For that, viewers would presumably need to wear headphones, which might make movie night with the family a little awkward.

The dual-image LCD will cost about twice as much as Sharp's standard display, according to an Associated Press report. Sharp representatives were not immediately available to discuss pricing.

The technology that enables the device is called a "parallax barrier." When superimposed on the LCD, it causes "the light from the backlight to separate into right and left directions, which makes possible a display in which the view differs depending on the angle at which the screen is viewed," Sharp said in a statement.