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'Computer-On-Glass' Display 214

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the good-enough-to-lick dept.
bfries writes "Sharp Corp, Japan's largest maker of liquid crystal displays (LCDs), unveiled a screen Tuesday with microprocessor circuitry applied directly onto the glass, enabling it to function like a computer. It uses Sharp's continuous grain silicon (CGS) technology and should be used on some products in 2005."
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'Computer-On-Glass' Display

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  • Wow, sounds a bit like the computers in Minority Report
    • unveiled a screen Tuesday with microprocessor circuitry applied directly.... enabling it to function like a computer

      Sounds more like an iMac to me. (Note for the humourless: I am joking, I am aware of the difference).
    • Wow - haven't we seen this story already - tomorrow [slashdot.org]!

      Now the whole of /. is becoming like Minority Report ;-)

  • by Salden (571264) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:08AM (#4503453)
    • Coke Bottle PC
    • Casserole PC
    • Fish Tank PC
    Wait, that last one's been done before...
  • Cool... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gruneun (261463) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:09AM (#4503469)
    Just remind me to be excited again in three years. It's interesting, but not really news until there's, at the least, something to look at.
  • by gpinzone (531794) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:10AM (#4503472) Homepage Journal
    CRACK!
  • Yeah? (Score:3, Funny)

    by somethingwicked (260651) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:10AM (#4503479)
    should be used on some products in 2005

    Yeah? You think so, buddy? Well, what if we decide not to use it, huh? What are YOU going to do about?

    Who are you to say if we SHOULD use it or not...

    Oh, hold on...that might not be what you meant.

    Somethingwicked, you ignorant slut.

    • See parent. That's okay, I have karma to burn when this gets modded down as well...

      First off, MY username is somethingwicked. Was I trolling myself???

      NO!!! I was making a simple joke about how I briefly misinterpretted the wording of the original comment.

      Does no one remember the old SNL joke I referenced? So MAYBE it wasn't that good a joke, it sure wasn't a troll

      • You know, I think you actually DID troll yourself. And got yourself to reply. Lost karma and all.
        I'm not trying to bug you, I just think it's real funny... you should see the lighter side and recognize it as an acomplishment.
        I, for one, salute you :)
        (Not trolling, it's a joke... and if it isn't funny, hey, yours wasn't very funny either) ;)
  • How's it look. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FreeLinux (555387) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:11AM (#4503485)
    I'm curious about how these screens look. One of the issues with LCD is the screens appearance. They are often hard to view unless at a precise angle, if you wear glasses, especially polarized glasses, they are even harder to view. Touch screen films make them harder still to view and now they are embedding the actual circuitry in the display. What's the viewing like?
  • Glass/Silicon (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pubjames (468013) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:12AM (#4503492)

    What is the difference between glass and the silicon crystal used in chips? Aren't they kind of similar?
    • Re:Glass/Silicon (Score:2, Informative)

      by FreeLinux (555387)
      Glass is quartz and/or silica not silicon.
      • Re:Glass/Silicon (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eccles (932)
        Glass is quartz and/or silica not silicon.

        Hmm, what gets 5s these days...

        Quartz is silicon dioxide (SiO2), as opposed to pure silicon. It's like the difference between rust and iron.
      • Re:Glass/Silicon (Score:5, Informative)

        by dhovis (303725) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @11:25AM (#4505056)
        I'm going to expand on this a little. I'm a ceramics person, so I'm actually qualified.

        Glass is primarily SiO2 or "silica", but what we go around calling glass has plenty of additives. Most of what we call glass is actually soda-lime glass, so called because it contains ample ammounts of soda (Na2O) and lime (CaO). Those two ingredients help lower the melting point of SiO2 and make it a lot easier to process. Pyrex is a brand name for borosilicate glass and its composition allows it to be very strong and resistant to thermal shocks (this is why you can put Pyrex in the oven without worrying about it shattering). LCD glass is probably different alltogether.

        Very pure amorphous SiO2 glass can be made, but it is much more expensive and is often sold as "fused silica" or "fused quartz".

        True "quartz" is a crystalline (ordered) phase of SiO2, and it is not the only one. Crystoballite and tridymite are two other crystalline phases of quartz.

        In any case, SiO2 is a dialectric, and not a semiconductor, so the computation being done in this story is all contained in the layers on top of the glass and not in the glass itself.

  • Heat dissipation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mortis_aeturnus (606421) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:12AM (#4503493)
    Glass is a very very poor heat conductor. Having anything running at a very low temperature on this would pale any laptop overheating horror stories. This would definately limit the power of the processor you can use. This would make a nice (and slower than 4.77mhz) palm top but nothing more.
    • It depends upon your point of reference. Compared to a metal it may be a poor conductor but in a house the glass is one of the biggest causess of heat loss. Why do you think a winfdow feels cold in winter?
    • Re:Heat dissipation (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Oculus Habent (562837) <oculus.habent@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:32AM (#4503632) Journal
      They didn't say they were planning on having an Pentium 4 2.8GHz-on-glass - the processing probably won't be very powerful for some time.

      Meanwhile wouldn't it be nice to have a half-inch thick high resolution LCD TV?
    • Brain fart... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gruneun (261463) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:36AM (#4503664)
      What if the screen was made up of two pieces of glass, with water being passed between them? Water is obviously a proven way to transfer heat and it would be invisible to the user.
      • yeah, then some jokester will come along and inject food coloring into your monitors heat sink when you're not looking.
    • Someone posted [slashdot.org] a Japanese article that the fish translated. The first generation applications will be for displays like PDA, watches, and portable TV's that will utilize a proprietary 8-bit processor. 8-bit is not exactly a processing giant. Lower processor power, lower heat output.
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:14AM (#4503511)
    All we need is enough processor power to decompress a JGP. Shit it! Shit it now! We *need* this thing!

  • Slow Glass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geoff lane (93738) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:15AM (#4503513)
    When storage density reaches about 60 Gbits/sqin
    you can store the all the data for a single pixal for a 90min movie within the area occupied by the pixal.

    Once that's possible you can create dedicated movie "books".

  • by httpamphibio.us (579491) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:15AM (#4503518)
    I can't read japanese, but I believe this [sharp.co.jp] is a picture of what the article talks about.
  • Mod (Score:4, Funny)

    by BoBaBrain (215786) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:18AM (#4503536)
    Here [himeji-tech.ac.jp] is an overview of a case mod for such a system.

    The processing power isn't great, but it did manage to support Wine.
  • by GnomeKing (564248)
    Now not only can you get your business cards upside down, but you also have trouble telling if the company name really IS japanese, or if your just looking at it from the wrong side

    Seriously though - I can really see this sort of technology being used on phone booths (if it can be made cheep enough not to matter if its vandalised now n then) to make them display moving images while still being able to see through the glass to see that theres someone inside

    It reminds me of a scene from The Time Machine where the hero blokey was talking to the hologram-type-librarian who was shown walking around "inside" pieces of glass...
    • I can really see this sort of technology being used on phone booths
      How about the front window in cars? Heads-up-display anyone? I may wait on LASIK in hopes that my glasses in 2008 come HUD enabled. :)
  • have dual monitors? Network the screens togeather?
  • Transparency (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    i'm interested in how they get the microprocessor transparent. if you can't use the same space for c and lcd, then there's no reason for this combination
    • Re:Transparency (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Oculus Habent (562837)
      There's plenty of reason.

      If Palm could make a PDA with one piece of glass instead of glass and PCB, it could save money.

      Every LCD I've seen on a shelf or in a picture has a casing on it. If that space had extra glass with a microprocessor embedded - your LCD screen could be higher quality for less money.

      If you want to go to the extreme of the clear hand-held computer, you will probably still have an area to hold it by and maybe even some buttons for using it, which will provide space for circuits.
      • Until they figure out how to print a useful battery on glass, they're definitely going to have some opaque non-glass segments. You can't just embed the battery IN the glass because if you break it a lot of nasty shit will come out.

        Buttons aren't a problem, you can vary capacitance with flexion. (Is that a word?) You can get clear plastic calculators for use on overhead projectors...

  • This would work much better than projecting the image onto a surface.
    • Some HUD's don't project the image onto a surface, but actually project the image into your eye. I've seen a HUD built into eyeglasses frames, and it worked by creating a virtual screen of pixels on one retina that subtended some 30 degrees of the eye's field of view. Its screen was pretty cool, consisting of a row of fibers that vibrated back and forth at a known period and a timer that sent the right row of data to the fibers at the right time.
    • Nope. Close, I'll give you that, but not there yet. I saw no mention of a Heads Up Display in the atricle, so I'm assuming they havn't worked on that little problem of focas. Imagine trying to read one of these things, and then trying to look through it... you can't do both at the same time. It's the eqivilent to holding your hand a foot from your face and trying to be able to read something on the wall and the writing on your hand at the same time WITHOUT re-focasing.

      Note: The above does not apply if "you only have one eye", and I'm an "insensitive clod".
  • Cool, (Score:1, Interesting)

    by blu3b3rry (612385)
    That make some cool windows, HUD for cars, and Computer case. Neat stuff.
  • Digital Photos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jezza (39441) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:27AM (#4503599)
    Well they're talking about ultra-high resolutions for things like photographs, and maps. Of course this is going to need huge storage and processing abiliy if they're going to reporduce photographic quality on anything larger than a really small display. I'm guessing that the display would probably be most useful if it could dynamically change resolution perhaps displaying several resolutions at once, to combine video (HDTV perhaps) a computer output at a "normal resolution" (90dpi or so) and a photo quality section (say 300dpi or better).

    The abiliy to offload some of the processing on the display would be very helpful. I can see that being a very useful display. Still the idea of storage on the display sounds like Minority Report to me. Very cool.
    • Well they're talking about ultra-high resolutions for things like photographs, and maps.

      I'm just glad that they're actually mentioning potential applications which aren't a part of the the current buzzword set. They could have easily shoved in there the usual "wireless devices" drivel...

  • 1 GHz limit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:28AM (#4503609)
    Reading up on the CGS link, it looks like the technology has a medium-imposed 1 GHz hard upper limit, since it's not really a single silicon crystal, but a set of crystals ("grains" in MatSci speak) in which some effort is made to blur the lines between the grains (hence "continuous"). My guess is some sort of annealing process. The grain boundaries become
    a problem at 1 GHz.

  • Chip technology always seemed rather ugly to me. Now these pieces of glass have a quite appealing look like those in the Sci-Fi movies.

    Will we see soon an aqua-themed computer box?
  • ... the definition of breaking someone's password or encryption...

  • by The J Kid (266953) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:39AM (#4503690) Homepage Journal
    ..have a Beowolf cluster of Windows PC's !

    *Runs for cover*
  • Contacts? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DSL-Admin (597132)
    I would like to see this implented into contact lenses... Then we could have the interface wired to the optic nerve, and voila! instant computer enhanced vision....
  • Here's a picture (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yahoo news [yahoo.com] has a picture of one.
  • If you can make this cheap enough, imagine the possibilities! Integrate your TV in a glass wall, place info terminals and on-line shopping abilites in the windows of the shows, Integrate timer, thermometer, owen control, etc. in the glass on the kitchen fan... I like the possabilities of this!

    <geek>
    If nothing else, it looks like the PDAs they use in StarTrek are made out of a piece of glass with a handle, this means that we can actually manufacture 'em!
    </geek>
  • by twoslice (457793) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:46AM (#4503738)
    to the term my computer just crashed...

  • Mostly because Sir Mix-A-Lot said to "Put 'Em On The Glass" [leoslyrics.com].
    Oh, wait... silicone, not silicon. Nevermind.
  • by CutterDeke (531335) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:51AM (#4503781)
    In the picture with the article, you could see the traces on the glass. Do they not show up when this is incorporated into a display?

    I don't see the significance of this.

    • In the Reuters article linked below, the picture caption says a glass integrated with 8-bit central processing unit (CPU). I'm a bit confused, therefore, of their usage of the word "screen" later on. Do they mean to call the piece of glass a screen, so to say that the piece of glass is acting like a computer, or that it really is a screen and actually displays something?
  • by hangel (83462) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @08:57AM (#4503821) Homepage
    Large Photo in Reuters [reuters.com].
  • What kind of windowmanager can you use? Imaging how cool the "transparent" xterms will look.
  • by Suppafly (179830) <slashdot&suppafly,net> on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @09:25AM (#4504050)
    circuitry applied directly onto the glass, enabling it to function like a computer.

    Circuitry applied to glass is absolutely fascinating and all, but I want to know when they will come up with a good way for printing circuitry on skin. I want computerized skin damnit. One more potential reason to legitimize orgies..
    • Yeah so when they have circuitry on skin, they will no longer be called orgys.

      more like:

      Hey, ladies - imagine coming over to my place and having a beowolf cluster of us?
  • by SecGreen (577669) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @09:28AM (#4504089)
    and I saw a rock hit the windshield with a loud crack. As one of the cracks slowly grew across the windshield, different parts of the car started malfunctioning until finally, the engine sputtered to a stop...

    I can just hear the engineers... "Well we already have to put circuitry on the windshield for the HUD.. why don't we just go ahead and put the fuel injection computer and all the other electronics there as well..."

    Hey, you think it wouldn't happen? I bet you thought that refrigerators would never have Internet access either...

    --sg
  • A good Flat Panel already cost more than the computer it's hooked up too. When is someone going to come up with a technology that drives the price of flat panels down? IBM announced this new process [itworld.com] last year, which I understood would be a more cost effective way to make LCDs that the velvet rub. Is anyone using this process yet in manufacturing?
  • by Gruneun (261463) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @09:45AM (#4504227)
    I can make my house windows out of these things and project happy people interacting on them. I can fool the whole neighborhood into thinking I have friends.

    [sigh]
  • Personally I foresee this coming out a lot sooner than the electronic paper MIT's been talking about for at least five years.
  • by phorm (591458) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @10:24AM (#4504568) Journal
    The cool
    • Portable (touch-type?) displays you can plug in anywhere. Download new library books by chapter (into temporary memory?).
    • Restaurant tables? TV's: watch the game on your table. Virtual colouring books for kids
    • Forget the coloured contacts. Glasses will come back in style as you get your own mini-HUD
    The bad
    • Billboards, now every office window can be one!
    • Spyglass-capabilities
    • And you thought your palm broke easily when you dropped it
    The ugly
    • Microsoft WindowPanes home edition and the BWOD (Blue Window Of Death)????!!!
  • by Malic (15038)
    I think solar recharged PDA's made with this kind of technology would be the COOLEST thing! Just a *mostly* clear tablet with a display floating within.

    Didn't we see something like this in Our Man Flint...? =)
  • They have had transistors on the glass for some time, sounds like just a natural evolution of the same sort of concept.

    Put them on a crystal substrate instead of glass, then they would be shock resistant too.

    Still cool stuff, dont misunderstand.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Tuesday October 22, 2002 @11:14AM (#4504979) Homepage Journal
    I don't like this. Think about the possibilities for DRM: this is basically Jack Valenti's wet dream. If the whole computer is directly on the glass, there's no place to jack in. No place to tap the signal. No place to do anything. DRM hardware implemented mere nanometers from the pixels. Let's hope this technology does not come to fruition.
    • "Let's hope this technology does not come to fruition."

      Urgh, get me a bucket! I'm gonna spew!
      "No place to do anything."

      What a whiner. I so hate having to debunk upmodded trolls. Sigh.

      First try, reductio ad sarcasium:

      Indeed! No place to upload new firmware, applications, or content. We don't even have to bother with the circuity in this model! We can just paint the glass! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!! It's _completely secure_! Fooled those silly customers, didn't we now!

      Second try, a more serious approach:

      This is no different than a large variety of new printable circuit technologies on the horizon. (E.g. printable on plastic, woven/printed into cloth, etc.) ALL OF THEM WILL EVENTUALLY COME TO PASS. Just like current implementation technologies, none of these have any instrinsic connection to DRM.

      Listen up: the feature sets and marketing profiles of products are determined by what customers will buy, or by what companies guess customers will buy. If customers continue to value of a product market without DRM, then products without DRM will continue to be sold. If customers never value DRM, eventually markets will learn.

      Yes, despite the diligence of those in the know, we may enter a Prohibition like phase regarding IP rights here in the U.S. We may already be there. Yes that sucks. But I believe that continued diligence and basic economic forces will eventually roll over all of that like so many other times that "progress" went burp! in world history. At least we don't have to deal with the Black Plague.

      Moreover, your position holds powerlessness and fear as its fundamental assumptions. How can you stand to think that way? You've already lost!
  • ...has licensed the tech for their latest processor code named Transparent.
  • Once again we see technology imitating the movies. I ahve always waited for the glass stip cards that were shown in 2001, star trek and lots of anime which are processors or portions of.

    I am just waiting till I can have the zoom map table from alien and starwars to view detailed maps - or anything else.

    I do a lot of CAD work and would love to have a glass CAD table.
  • who invented this. Actually it was a team of two. One of them was a victim of age descrimination by his work, so in his spare time, he and another guy developed this. All he could tell me is the hardest part was getting the material for the contacts to be the right size was the hardest part.(imagine worrying about a half a micron to make a good connection) The second hardest is that the underside of the chip is exposed to RF. You absolutely must buy shielded chips. The advantage of this is cheaper electronics. Glass is cheaper than PCB, especially when you don't need connectors. So watches and the like won't need the extra PCB. Keep in mind as well that glass traces are extremely hard to make more than 1 level. Usually, you have several sheets of glass with connectors on the sides instead. This makes it extremely difficult to put a 370pin CPU on one. CPU bus signals may not like the width or resistance or interference of the glass traces either.

    I saw a few posts argueing about heat problems. You could still put a heatsink on the chips. PCB doesn't conduct heat all that well either. PCB's on the other hand do block more RF. And photons hitting the traces on on a PCB is less of a problem than on glass :)

    All in all, it's a very neat technology and is very interesting. It will save manufacturing costs a lot, maybe even in LCD monitors/LCD TV's or even hand helds. It's not going to be used for a fast computer because the technology to put traces on glass isn't nearly as good as copper that you will find in the average PCB.

    At least that was the case the last time I checked. There might be some good conductors for glass now.
  • People who use glass computer shouldn't throw stones.

    Sorry, just had to day it :)
  • ...but it's still quite a ways to go from Neal Stephenson's phenomenoscopic spectacles on Miss Whatshername, the court secretary, in The Diamond Age.

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