The shopping experience is getting more "Minority Report"-ish by the day, what with innovations like digital billboards that know your age and gender and serve up ads accordingly.
Now Samsung is looking to buy into the future-of-retail space with a transparent LCD panel that can be used to dramatically enhance kiosks, store windows, and billboards with text and images that do fancy tricks like rotate and fade in and out rather than just sit there. Think bus shelters with see-through walls displaying scrolling schedules and clothing shop windows that feature models sashaying down the catwalk.
Yesterday in San Francisco, the company showed CNET a 22-inch transparent LCD panel built into a display case housing a Samsung Galaxy Tab. That size panel has already gone into production, with a 46-incher on the way.
During the demo, the 7-inch Tab sat behind a window-like facade programmed to display text and images spotlighting some of the product's specs and social-networking capabilities. Bill Beaton, senior manager of LCD marketing for Samsung, even did a little hand dance behind the rotating imagery to demonstrate the panel's high transparency rate.
The panels come in black-and-white and color versions, and have a contrast ratio of 500:1 with WSXGA+ (1,680x1,050) resolution. They are HDMI- and USB-enabled and utilize ambient light such as sun light, thus reducing their dependence on electricity.
This is not Samsung's first stab at transparency, as its IceTouch YP-H1 and laptop sport a transparent touch screen. Other companies, including LG, Sony Ericsson, and Korean materials maker NeoView Kolon have ventured into transparent-technology territory, as well.
Samsung mostly views its transparent panels as a tool to make advertising more dynamic (and says it's already working with unnamed major retail partners interested in using them that way). But it also imagines them as potential interactive communication devices for corporations and schools.
Beyond those applications, Beaton showed a cool image of an office building made multicolored by smart windows using the transparent panels. That's just a concept at this point. Still, we're suddenly imagining "mood houses" that sport yellow windows when inhabitants feel happy, and blue windows when they're bummed.