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article imagePanasonic's transparent TV is back, now looks more transparent

By James Walker     Oct 6, 2016 in Technology
Back in January, Panasonic showed off a concept version of a TV that appears transparent when turned off. Ten months on, the design has been significantly refined. The screen is now much brighter and capable of becoming as transparent as glass.
Panasonic is demoing the updated version of the TV at the CEATEC tech show in Japan, as Engadget reports. The company has updated its concept in several ways to make it more effective. While it's still a long way from production, the new screen is closer to achieving Panasonic's aims.
The most noticeable change when turned off is the increased transparency of the glass. Panasonic is aiming to make the TV as transparent as an ordinary glass panel, letting you integrate it into your home furniture units. Without the screen turned off, there's no way of telling a TV is even there. It looks like any other glass installation.
Panasonic transparent television  October 2016
Panasonic transparent television, October 2016
Panasonic
Panasonic has also improved the screen's appearance when it's in use. It has addressed the most serious issue with the original concept, the brightness of the display. In January, Panasonic had to use under-shelf lighting to brighten up the image. The panel still looked dim compared to its surroundings though, making for a disappointing viewing experience.
Panasonic transparent television  October 2016
Panasonic transparent television, October 2016
Panasonic
The updated prototype is significantly brighter and more comfortable to watch. It is still dim relative to other TVs but should now be usable in most home surroundings. The panel is also clearer and easier to read. Panasonic warns that bright ambient surroundings could cause problems though and there's still further work to be done on the display.
The TV operates by illuminating a fine mesh screen embedded into the glass. The OLED wires used are too thin to see when the panel is turned off, creating the transparent effect. Once illuminated, the light emitted by the mesh makes the panel visible. According to Engadget, if the display is dimmed "the image is clear and bright enough to be almost indistinguishable from existing televisions."
Panasonic transparent television  October 2016
Panasonic transparent television, October 2016
Panasonic
If fully developed, the television's technology could have several practical applications in future homes. For people who infrequently watch TV and don’t want a large screen in their home, a panel such as this could be ideal. When not in use, it blends into its surroundings, creating a discrete display case or furniture unit. At the touch of a button, the OLED mesh underneath can illuminate though, creating an attractive party piece that's unlikely to appear in many living rooms.
Unfortunately, there's little chance of this technology appearing for quite some time. Panasonic intends to keep developing the TV for at least three more years. It's unclear whether it intends to commercialise the display afterwards. Even if it does, pricing is unlikely to be accessible to a typical TV purchaser.
More about Panasonic, TV, Television, Displays, future tech
 
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