Print 24 comment(s) - last by inperfectdarkn.. on Jun 25 at 5:41 PM

Say "goodbye" to rectangles and "hello" to more organic shapes

If you look at the display screens for nearly any type of consumer electronic device — be it a smartphone, tablet, computer, television, or GPS unit — they are all rectangular-shaped. The same goes for the screens that we find in our vehicles that display navigation/infotainment information.
Finding displays that buck this trend are few and far between, with most recent example being the Motorola Moto 360 (the Nest Learning Thermostat’s display screen “appears” to be round, but it’s actually a square display with “with only the visible portion populated with pixels” according to iFixit).
Sharp is looking to think outside the box with its new Free-Form Display technology that allows displays to take on a more organic shape to better blend in with its surroundings. Traditional displays must maintain a sizeable bezel around the screen for the drive circuit or “gate driver.” Using IGZO technology and some of its own “secret sauce,” Sharp was able to commingle the gate driver with the pixels on the screen to drastically minimize the size of the bezel.

This allows the for a display screen that can be shaped in almost any design that you desire. The two prototypes that Sharp has on display are clearly geared towards the automotive sector, but the applications of this technology are endless.
Sharp is working to bring Free-Form Display technology to the market as soon as possible.

Sources: Sharp [1], [2]

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Interesting tech
By CaedenV on 6/19/2014 3:11:35 PM , Rating: 4
This is going to be great for cars and small appliances that can use circular displays (fridge, stove, thermostat, etc.).

But outside of that I am not quite sure what would use it. Perhaps I have a lack of imagination, but it seems to me that rectangular UIs are fairly ideal and efficient for most applications. Maybe it would find a good home in mixing digital displays with analog controls? That could be a nice alternative to touch screens in applications where there are moving objects.

RE: Interesting tech
By knightspawn1138 on 6/19/2014 3:23:30 PM , Rating: 2
Instrument panels, glasses, visors, art installations. Put a military spin on it, and you would use this for visual camouflage on ships or aircraft. Or make it light enough to be used as visual camouflage on a person. Now I'm picturing Ghost in the Shell all over. I'm excited about tech like this.

RE: Interesting tech
By Belegost on 6/19/2014 3:35:14 PM , Rating: 5
I would be happy if they just used it to shrink the side bezels on my monitors down so there's not so much of a break in a multi-monitor setup.

RE: Interesting tech
By inighthawki on 6/19/2014 4:15:55 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/20/2014 10:51:57 AM , Rating: 3
Why would you not simply wish for one singular monitor that's as wide as you want it to be? With no bezel at all?

RE: Interesting tech
By inighthawki on 6/20/2014 12:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Separate monitors have benefits such as having their own desktop boundaries for maximized windows or fullscreen applications. Also having a display that long becomes very difficult to position and transport. Can you even imagine a 48:9 aspect ratio display?

RE: Interesting tech
By Belegost on 6/20/2014 12:20:19 PM , Rating: 3
Also, I can set the relative angles so that each monitor is arranged to face me properly, and if someone else wants to use it, they can adjust for them. A single flat panel that wide would have significant perspective distortion at edges when sitting a normal desk distance away. And if we're talking LCD add the color distortion from the viewing angle.

I suppose we could use flexible OLED for that, but I expect the price on a flexible 76" 7680x1600 panel would be more than my yearly salary.

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/21/2014 11:55:41 AM , Rating: 2
I'm just saying if you're going to wish for something, wish for what you actually want - granted that it's actually possible to do.

What you're doing with your 3 (or more) monitors arranged in a semi-circle in front of you is emulating a single monitor with a long, curved panel. A single monitor with a long, curved panel, is *actually* what you want.

And it's actually do-able right now. Like all new things, it's cost is high. But if I were you, I'd be wishing for that monitor...and also wishing for an affordable price.

RE: Interesting tech
By YearOfTheDingo on 6/19/2014 4:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
SLR camera could benefit from this. The key promise of the technology is that it makes it easier for manufacturers to put physical nobs and buttons alongside a touch screen interface.

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/19/2014 7:41:58 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sure it would be a big hit if Apple put a small hole (say, half an inch around) through the middle of their next iPhone. So that the Macolytes could actually put their wieners through them.

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/19/2014 7:59:00 PM , Rating: 3
Then they just need a photo of Steve Jobs that looks kinda like this: :O

RE: Interesting tech
By atechfan on 6/20/2014 5:44:16 AM , Rating: 2
Well, that's twice the size Android phones will need.

RE: Interesting tech
By FITCamaro on 6/20/2014 7:28:32 AM , Rating: 3
We've devolved to dick size jokes.....awesome.

RE: Interesting tech
By Nexos on 6/20/2014 8:28:18 AM , Rating: 2
Analogue tachs/speedos/clocks/etc are round because the dial describes a circle as it travels across its spectrum. There is no practical reason to have circular LCD displays instead of square, other than packaging (even that is a bit of a stretch, designing around square-ish displays at most a few inches across isn't exactly rocket science)

Once round analogue dials leave the public consciousness these will look absolutely idiotic.

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/20/2014 10:50:14 AM , Rating: 3
Round analog dials are used for such purposes because they are perfectly suited for conveying the relevant information to the driver - which isn't a precise number for the current RPMs or MPH, but what the rate of change is. A needle sweeping an arc is superb for this purpose.

Hence, I find it highly unlikely that round analog dials will ever "leave the public conscience."

RE: Interesting tech
By inperfectdarkness on 6/22/2014 9:39:58 AM , Rating: 1
Completely disagree. There are many other methods via which this can be transmitted. By a pure numeric readout, the rate of change can be indicated by a +/- MPH/sec feature. There have been MANY commercially successful cars in the 90's (even some in the 80's) which featured a purely numeric digital display (i.e. calculator-style LCD readout).

And that's just one other display. A linear display with "0 mph" on the left and, say "200 mph" on the right can have a "needle-style" indicator or even a lighted bar that traverses the graph--which would indicate current speed and rate of change.

Line graphs, bar graphs, many types of digital readouts are possible with an LED style display screen; and that's not to mention altering the size, location, colors, shapes, etc. Some people may want an oversize tachometer. Others may want many small gauges so they can fit in other readouts like exhaust temp, transmission temp, etc.

I'm firmly of the opinion that once consumers realize how much more choice and option they have with digital, LED-style, customizable readouts--the days of analogue gauges in automobiles is all but doomed.

RE: Interesting tech
By Motoman on 6/22/2014 11:23:01 AM , Rating: 3
And there's no doubt in my mind that you're wrong.

This tech bubbled up and filtered out of the enthusiast and racer market a long time ago. Nothing works as well for conveying the appropriate information to the driver than a dial gauge.

If you want, render a dial gauge digitally.

But the market has already rejected your other approaches. Which is why those awesome displays you mentioned from the 80s and 90s stayed in the 80s and 90s.

RE: Interesting tech
By inperfectdarkness on 6/25/2014 5:41:49 PM , Rating: 2
No, the reason those styles of gauges remain as an experimental footnote in automotive history is because progress has stagnated. ISP's would never invest in broadband capabilities if consumers were eternally happy with 56k dialup; and car MFG's have never invested in better instrumentation so long as consumers have been content with antiquated analogue tech.

If dial gauges were the be-all-end-all of speed indications, they would would also be indicated as such on HUD displays inside fighter jets.

The real beauty of this tech is that car companies can give consumers the CHOICE of how/what they want to display--yes, even round gauges--for those troglodytes of society. MFG's can also use feedback on these displays to program better options/features for newer models--or even better, to offer firmware updates with more options for the existing ones.

The LFA does render those gauges digitally--because analogue sucks donkey balls. And the only reason it uses round--I must infer--is because of such a staunch resistance to change.

RE: Interesting tech
By inperfectdarkness on 6/22/2014 9:32:23 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, if this does nothing other than change how instrumentation is displayed in our cars (at least at first), then it's totally worth it. I've been waiting 10+ years for LED-tech to supplant the 100-year-old+ analogue tech that has been a staple feature of motor-vehicle dashboards since before WWI. I HATE OLD TECH.

This is 2014; we're in the second decade of the new millennium. Why in the holy-hell cars aren't ALL coming new from the factory with customizable EL lighting (colors, brightness) and LED displays (color, layout, display type, readout choices, etc)--is beyond me. Less mechanical parts = less things that will fail. I've changed my fair share of speedometer cables in my day--and I'm tired of it. Instrumentation should be practical, simple, and easily customized. None of this fake-chrome-bezel analogue crap because---"OH, SHINY!!!!".


RE: Interesting tech
By Dr of crap on 6/24/2014 12:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
Its called cost!
Cars are already to much, now you think the ideas you listed aren't going to cost extra???

If they stopped with the stupid tech we can do without, then yes bring on those things you list, but they won't do that!

RE: Interesting tech
By inperfectdarkness on 6/25/2014 5:34:03 PM , Rating: 2
I guarantee that solid-state (no moving parts) electronics--mass produced--has less cost and higher durability than mechanical components with the same purpose. Automotive manufacturers with LED displays could unify all displays for all vehicles into one core device, rather than sourcing several variants for every different vehicle in the lineup.

Better still, all of the sending units, sensors, etc--could also be unified, meaning that repair pipelines could be streamlined and warehoused inventory could also be reduced.

Sure, new tech has a higher INITIAL cost, but we're way beyond that now. Your average phablet has enough power/capability to handle the duties of an instrument cluster display. Realistically, the cost difference is negligable.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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