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Displays Science Technology

New Research Could Lead to Transparent Displays 85

Posted by Zonk
from the i'll-take-that-as-a-contact-lense-please dept.
An anonymous reader tipped us to a ScienceDaily story about advances that may lead to transparent transistors. By combining inorganic and organic materials, we may reach the goal of transparent surfaces that can display information, with no visible wiring marring the effect. The article cites HUDs on car windshields, and targeting goggles for soldiers, but I'm sure we can think of some additional interesting uses for such a technology. From the article: "High-performance, transparent transistors could be combined with existing kinds of light display technologies, such as organic light-emitting diodes, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and electroluminescent displays, which are already used in televisions, desktop and laptop computers and cell phones ... Prototype displays using the transistors developed at Northwestern could be available in 12 to 18 months, said Marks. He has formed a start-up company, Polyera, to bring this and related technologies to market."
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New Research Could Lead to Transparent Displays

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  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:25PM (#17355040) Homepage Journal

    Well, it's Christmas time here so I've got a little time to do some reading. And frankly, I'm excited to hear about the progress on greener technologies forthcoming next year. I was just reading about a projection TV set that will use laser to increase range-of-color and decrease power usage by a third -- win-win! And it got me to thinking; given that the average computer uses about 52,000 pine trees worth of energy every day there's probably a lot of slack that can be tightened up to restrict wasteful consumption. While one could probably save the most by dimming the 'Brightness' setting on his monitor, I strongly suspect the greatest savings will be realized by emphasizing energy saving technologies in the personal computer.

    Sure, spending another hundred or so on efficient computing wouldn't make the video games run any faster, but if it was mandated we'd probably notice huge dividends in nationwide energy consumption. Energy that could then be used to run our cars, or air conditioning, or substinence farming. Until then I suppose we could just use the coal from our Christmas stockings to offset the electric bill, lol.

    • by thc69 (98798)
      the average computer uses about 52,000 pine trees worth of energy every day
      Care to cite a link?

      Also, from TFA:
      Imagine a car windshield that displays a map to your destination
      Nice idea, but we don't need high-tech transparent transistors. Existing HUD technology would do the job just fine.
      • by AoT (107216) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:48PM (#17355466) Homepage Journal
        Nice idea, but we don't need high-tech transparent transistors. Existing HUD technology would do the job just fine.

        And I'm sure the transparent display would cost a lot more to fix.

        Which means all car windshields should be made of it in about 10 years.
        • And I'm sure the transparent display would cost a lot more to fix.
          Which means all car windshields should be made of it in about 10 years.

          Indeed. And who wants a computer-controlled windshield that can crash all on its own? That would be a true Blue Screen of Death!

        • by solitas (916005)
          >>Which means all car windshields should be made of it in about 10 years.

          Of course it would cost a lot more to fix - and the insurance companies will be orgasmically happy to pass the exorbitant costs unto you; just make sure you never piss anyone off: free glass replacement will be a thing of the past (if all the insurance companies refuse to give you free windshields they'll all be in cahoots with each other to deny you ANY free glass replacement). And replacing a transparent-display windshield (wh
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by binkzz (779594)
        I think it may be the same guy who was trying to start a rumour that the average computer used the equivalent half a container ship of coal to run each day.
    • there's probably a lot of slack that can be tightened up to restrict wasteful consumption.

      You mean cancel the holidays??
    • Quit worrying about that crap. 52000 pine trees? The coal puts CO2 in the air enough for 52000 pine trees to be very happy and make more sugar (photosynthesis results in food...). Even if we burned trees for power, when you cut down a tree in America you need to plant 2 more elsewhere; there's a whole tree-planting industry, the foresters and developers just pay someone when they tear out a chunk of woodlands so they go somewhere else and put down more trees; some of the newly planted ones die, overpopu

      • by Leebert (1694)
        Your expenses drop by $500/month and the $20,000 you spend pays for itself in about 2 years.


        Good LORD how much money are you spending on electricity? My bill runs around $100/month, upwards around $200/month in winter. At that rate it would take at least 8 years to pay for itself.
    • 52,000 pine trees worth of energy

      What's that in burning libraries of congress?
    • While one could probably save the most by dimming the 'Brightness' setting on his monitor, I strongly suspect the greatest savings will be realized by emphasizing energy saving technologies in the personal computer.


      Apparently, shutting off lights and using the dryer less would be more effective [slashdot.org].
    • 52,000 trees must be false - think about what happens when you burn just one log in your fireplace - it gets very hot and burns for a few hours. Now consider leaving your computer on for a few hours - it gets quite hot. Where is there more energy - one computer running for a few hours, or a decent size chunk of wood burning for a few hours.

      And if thats just 1 chunk of wood, then how much energy is there in 52,000 trees worth?

      I don't have the data here to work it out precisely, since you didn't give much i
      • yeah your computer uses .5 kilowatts (ballpark. and thats at full load). multiply that by 24 and you get 12kw*hr. now last I checked, electricity was $.11 per kilowatt hour. so that costs like $1.00/day. are you saying that a pine tree costs 1/520 of a cent =p =p. I think what the article you read said 52,000 on a total ;-). anyway I totally agree with you that theres alot more that could be done to save the environment, but it needs to be done quickly =\
        • Your computer would draw more like .7KWs on peak, when you consider peripherals (monitors/HIDs/speakers/routers+switches)..
          But (GP) what is this about pine forests being hurt? Did you mean, if the electricity is used to operate chainsaws maybe? If anything, the carbon mono/dio-xide is to them what oxygen is to us.. Perhaps the article you read said that ideally, we need another 52,000 trees/year (for XYZ years) planted to catch up to our carbon gas outputs?
          [On Topic] Wow this technology sounds aweso
    • Hmmm... what if we could stack sheets of these together? Hello 3-dimensional television?
    • What are you doing here?It's time for holiday ham!

      I'm Jewish you insensitive clod!

    • by Maelwryth (982896)
      "52,000 pine trees worth of energy every day".......wtf? I really hope that was a misprint. Maybe you meant all the average computers in the world?

      Find a way around having a fan in the power supply would be good though.
    • not sure where to reply here but i thought it should be mentioned that hud displays for helmets have to be focussed at a usably distant viewing focal point. ever noticed it takes nearly a second to switch between rear view and forward view? there already exists huds for cars which put the speedometer about 2 metres forward of the driver. i've always wondered why this isn't standard but i bet there is a reason why, something to do with reliability of the device. making a rear view display on the same sort of
    • by roman_mir (125474)
      given that the average computer uses about 52,000 pine trees worth of energy every day - I will not be satisfied until I have a computer in each appliance at home, including the fridge and the water faucet. I do not like XMas, so hopefully burning 52,000,000 pine trees a day could be used to stop this dreadfull holiday.

      Sure, spending another hundred or so on efficient computing wouldn't make the video games run any faster, but if it was mandated we'd probably notice huge dividends in nationwide energy cons
    • One average computer uses 52,000 pine trees worth of energy a day? Thats, oh, about 10 billion watts of energy given the average dimemsions of a pine tree. If that's the case, my electric bill should be ALOT higher.
  • "Honey, you look great in that new bikini I bought you. Oh darny darn, the batteries wore out, making it kinda like see-thru."
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by The Zon (969911)
      If I were your wife, I'd be less concerned about the display disappearing and more concerned about my electric bikini frying me when I go into the water.

      Actually, strike that. I'd be most concerned about the fact that you bought me a pair of television screens to use as a swimsuit.
  • I don't see the advantage of having a transparent display. What's next, invisible ink? Cold fire? Inaudible music? Those may have very narrow fields of applications, but com on, for general use, give me functionality!
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      I don't see the advantage of having a transparent display.

      Projection units that use less energy since less light is blocked. Cars with regular mechanical gauges (easier to read than a digital dash) with a map display superimposed on the dashboard glass.

      -b.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ubergamer1337 (912210)

      "What's next, invisible ink? Cold fire? Inaudible music?

      Invisible Ink: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_ink [wikipedia.org]
      Cold Fire: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ColdHeat [wikipedia.org]
      Inaudible Music: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4'33%22 [wikipedia.org]

      Three very known and legitimate versions of your 3 "useless" objects. Just because something is an oxymoron, doesn't make it stupid

      • Well... the inaudible music IS pretty stupid IMHO, and the Cold Heat thing isn't really cold heat, it's rapidly cooling heat. But yeah, invisible ink isn't stupid.
        • I too thought 4'3" was BS too when I first heard about it but the more I learned about John Cage and his work, the more it made sense. 4'3" is more about questions than the piece itself. As an experimental artist, it's only his nature to question the rules that define the genre. What makes a composition a composition? What defines performance? The fact that people think it's stupid doesn't make it any less relevant than the work of Bach or Mozart. His previous and subsequent work, all prove he's more
      • by dkleinsc (563838)
        If you read about 4'33", the whole point of the piece is that there is sound, even if it's not being produced by the performer. So it isn't inaudible music at all, it's more audible non-music.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by ImEric12 (712870)
      Think more along the lines of a window that doubles as a display. Not only does it save energy, but it makes for much better integration of technology in the household, or anywhere else for that matter.
    • Instead of having the television on the dashboard of the car you'll be able to watch your favourite dvd displayed on the windshield, think virtual 52" television.
    • by mmdog (34909)
      You could put it on a bathroom mirror so you could look at your calendar or watch the news or whatever while you prepare for your day. Maybe seniors could have a reminder of which pills to take displayed on the door of the medicine cabinet.

      On top of all that, let's not forget it would open all sort of new possibilities for watching pr0n.
  • I need to see my display to use it. How is a transparent display going to work?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by NeuroKoan (12458)
      I think the point is that the displays are completely transparent when off but become partially or fully opaque when they are displaying images.
    • Like this. [ebay.com]

      Next up, a new-fangled serial interface that can do over 10MB/sec, a new optical technology that can read and burn data using a laser (to store around 9GB of data/disc), and a new kind of wireless communication to use your phone over the internet!

      Astounding and amazing new things!
      • by emurphy42 (631808)
        Oh, ha ha. And what if I don't want the display to be susceptible to objects passing between the projector and screen?
    • by xycadium (908098)
      I need to see my display to use it. How is a transparent display going to work?

      Didn't you see the Zion Control Room [flickr.com] scene from Matrix Reloaded?
  • I've always thought this would be great for law enforcement.
    Imagine if a driver of a police car could see the speed of other cars - a speedometer hovering over the roofline.
    Or, combined with license plate recognition, could see the wanted/stolen status of cars.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think anyone would want to use one of these as a HUD by simply gluing them to the windscreen. If that were the case, the user would have to change between focusing an object only 2 feet away, and focusing the road, at least ten times as far away. With this, a large part of the advantage of HUDs would be lost, namely that the displayed data becomes part of the scene by appearing to hover a few yards away.
      • by TheJorge (713680)
        ...unless everyone started wearing stylish red/blue lensed glasses and the displays displayed everything in dupicate. Then as the images could be "placed" any distance you want from the viewer.

        Of course, there are probably slightly higher tech ways of doing this, but still...
  • by srk (49331) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @03:55PM (#17355224) Homepage
    There is a bunch of concepts for how to use the transparent displays. Most of all I like this: http://www.gizmowatch.com/entry/eye-freezing-futur e-imac-concept/ [gizmowatch.com] May be it will become true some time soon....
  • by aredubya74 (266988) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:05PM (#17355268)
    ...but I'm sure we can think of some additional interesting uses for such a technology
    For porn [youtube.com]!
  • Pictures (Score:4, Funny)

    by loconet (415875) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:16PM (#17355314) Homepage
    Here are the first pictures [flickr.com] of this technology
  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:24PM (#17355358) Homepage
    These could make for some seriously fantastic, 24x7 beer googles.

    Are you an ugly chick? Let your lover wear these transparent transistor glasses, and pretend that you're Natalie Portman.

    As long as you can stand hot grits down your pants, you should be able to get as much nookie as you can stand.
  • Maybe I'll finally be able to get my Minority Report display (sans Aero interface, hopefully)

    http://homepage.mac.com/caroledanforth/tomcruise/i mages/media.jpg [mac.com]
  • by El Puerco Loco (31491) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @04:55PM (#17355494)
    The whole point of a HUD is that you don't have to shift focus between the display and objects in the environment. In aircraft HUDs, the image is collimated, so it appears to be focused wherever the pilot happens to be looking at the time. This can't be achieved by simply putting a transparent monitor on the windscreen in front of your eyes, it requires a projection system. The type of display they are talking about here would not be much better than a regular instrument panel, because you would still need to shift focus from the outside environment to the windscreen. The same goes for a targeting system built into goggles, it would be useless because you would need to shift your focus to the targeting display a few inches from your eye to the target several hundred meters away.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wingbat (88117)
      You're assuming this can't be combined with the technology behind 3D LCD monitors (already commercial), where each eye sees a different image because of its angle...
      • by MrNaz (730548) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @07:24PM (#17356332) Homepage
        He's assuming that because it can't. There are two aspects to depth perception, one is the angle of the image with regards to the eye's direction, the other is the optical focus of the eye itself.

        The focus of the image is the result of the latter. To demonstrate this, get a magic marker and draw a picture onto a pair of swimming goggles. Then try to wear the goggles, and focus on the image you have drawn on them at the same time as an object in the distance.

        Spoiler: you will not be able to.
        • by deepvoid (175028)
          So that's why I saw that guy down by the beach with happy faces drawn on his glasses mumbling to himself...
  • ...with existing technologies like used by for example Universal Display [universaldisplay.com], where they use transparent OLEDS?
  • contrast control (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Speare (84249) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:08PM (#17355548) Homepage Journal
    Everyone thinks that transparent displays are a really cool idea until they try to actually look at one in uncontrolled lighting situations. Minority Report displays weren't real, folks, and the special effects crew could ignore physics to make it happen. The key to being able to see things is contrast. If this thing isn't actively both shadowing and emitting, the display will be totally useless in light areas or dark areas or both.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Evil Pete (73279)

      Yeah it's a bit like when you first tried transparent terms. Eterm in my case (pause for a bit of nostalgia). Really really cool looking. But actually using it was less wonderful. Sadly transparent terms are not a good idea, even with tinting. 'Cept for showing off your OS ... definitely a winner with chicks.

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        It depends. If you have an application where a part of the window rarely contains information setting it to ~80% opacity can allow you to track stuff happening in a window in the background while still being able to completely ignore it if you want to (given that the second window fits into the "dead" region).

        Of course pseudo-transparent windows like the traditional "transparent" terminals found with KDE and Gnome are pretty pointless.
  • I'd stack 'em (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MadCow42 (243108) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:10PM (#17355556) Homepage
    Stack about 30 or so transparent displays on top of each other and create a true 3-D display - albeit limited in number of layers of depth to the number of screens. Anyone with a 30-head video card for me? :)

    MadCow.
    • Interesting, but wouldn't you still be able to see through it? Or would active pixels block light from passing through?
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Isn't that kind of the point? Things in the foreground SHOULD block view of things in the background when simulating 3D. If it was all transparent, that'd be... weird. Not un-useful, just weird.
        • Yeah, I agree that it would be weird. But it seems like it would probably be easier than making ones that could block light. So early models may not block light so well.
    • by salec (791463)
      I'd stack them too, for other purpose: as highly efficient PV batteries (well, if you make a transistor, I guess you made a couple of PN junctions, so why not...), up to the depth where almost all of the light gets absorbed.
  • I just wrote a technical report on this idea two months ago. I should have patented that shit.
  • Stuck pixels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by null etc. (524767) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:39PM (#17355740)
    Can you imagine how aggravating a stuck pixel will be if it's on your HUD or glasses? My friend has an LCD TV with 3 stuck pixels. I understand the conditions which encourage manufacturers not to accept the exchange of a set unless it has 7 or more stuck pixels, but come on; do you know how fleeced my friend feels, knowing that he paid the same amount of money for a display that has 3 glaring defects which affect his viewing pleasure, whereas his other friends paid the same price for a set with no stuck pixels?
    • Flashing white to black for 24hrs might fix it, try it.
  • Repeat after me (Score:3, Informative)

    by belg4mit (152620) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:50PM (#17355798) Homepage
    TRANSLUCENT
  • How about? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mycroft_514 (701676) on Sunday December 24, 2006 @05:59PM (#17355848) Journal
    The inside of my dive mask, to show up the data on my dive computer? There is something like it which uses the edges of the mask, but this would be better.
  • by SeaFox (739806)
    In Soviet Amerika displays are seen through by YOU.
  • by EdMack (626543)
    But I want to see my display!
  • haven't they already achieve screens like this, as portrayed in the Fashion shows @ SIGGRAPH?
  • but I think we really need some research into how to create transparent politicians. I think that would be more valuable in the long run.
  • The easiest app, put a webcam behind the damned screen. I'd rather look at the hottie I'm cybering with all the time.

    Next up: transparent pants!
  • This is really interesting. Presumably one could put a bunch of these in layers and make a 3d display.
  • Didn't HAL have transparent circut boards? When Dave was turning him off by pulling a bunch of circut boards, it seems like they were transparent. But maybe that was StarTrek when Wesley was drunk and pulled a bunch of boards and then had to put them back in. I'm just going on memory here, so it might just be my transparent imagination...

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