Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Paper view technology
October 13, 2005 7:17 PM   Subscribe

"Cheap, paper-thin TV screens that can be used in newspapers and magazines have been unveiled by German electronics giant Siemens. The firm says the low production costs could see the magazine shelves in newsagents come alive with moving images vying for the customers' attention as they move along the aisle. The new technology caused a sensation when it was first made public this week at the Plastics Electronics trade fair in Frankfurt....the new screens, which are literally paper thin, can do everything a regular TV screen or computer monitor can do, but cost a fraction of the price....one square metre of the material costs around £30 [US$53], and scientists working on the screens said they should be available by 2007." -- more...
posted by ericb (53 comments total)

 
Given the quality of content in most magazine and print publications, they should skip straight to making toilet paper out of this.
posted by spicynuts at 7:20 PM on October 13, 2005


There are other potential applications:
"The displays show information about products, or even operating instructions for devices, directly on the packaging. A pillbox, for example, could display instructions for how it should be taken and provide this information in several languages with the push of a button. Admission tickets for trade shows could indicate the booths where various exhibitors are located. It’s also conceivable that small computer games will be on packages or that equipment boxes will display animations that give users step-by-step operating instructions when a button is pushed."
posted by ericb at 7:23 PM on October 13, 2005


Ladies and gentlemen, WELCOME (COME, Come, come come...) to the FUTURE!

spicynuts, well said. but chances are they're going to make toilet paper out of this, but your toilet paper will be paid for by advertising.
posted by shmegegge at 7:26 PM on October 13, 2005


This is on my list of cool things the future is supposed to have.

Still waiting on my holodeck.
posted by phrontist at 7:28 PM on October 13, 2005


with a Neilsen toilet in every house.
posted by shmegegge at 7:30 PM on October 13, 2005


"Oh, good. The future's here."

--Mrs. Jon-O
posted by Jon-o at 7:33 PM on October 13, 2005


Yeah, but can they do it in hi-def?
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:39 PM on October 13, 2005


I'm sorry, what's this about German semen?
posted by jonson at 7:40 PM on October 13, 2005


What's the resolution? What's the refresh rate?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:48 PM on October 13, 2005


I'm horrified. Cheap, disposable screens means that companies can (and will) put advertising absolutely everywhere. I've learned to tune out print advertising (consciously, at least), and I avoid TV commercials by not watching TV, but ignoring this is going to require an entirely different skill set.

I'm remembering the scene in Minority Report where Tom throws the singing, dancing box of breakfast cereal across the room. I might have to go on a similar rampage.
posted by rockabilly_pete at 7:49 PM on October 13, 2005


but ignoring this is going to require an entirely different skill set.


Well, as long as they can't put sound in these things, it may be as simple as ignoring plasma screens in shop windows. When they add sound to the mix, look out, bladerunner.
posted by spicynuts at 7:56 PM on October 13, 2005


I heard about a seemingly lower tech but perhaps more practical project to make electronic paper. I found this when searching for a alternative to carrying a bunch of maps on a trip. The cool thing about it is that it acts kind of like a etch-a-sketch. A charge is applied to create a image, the paper holds this image without the use of any power till a new charge is applied.
posted by flummox at 8:01 PM on October 13, 2005


Minority Report, Firefly, and at least two Robert J. Sawyer novels feature this stuff. I am dead frickin' excited for this.
posted by S.C. at 8:02 PM on October 13, 2005


Have they been working on this since the first Harry Potter book?
posted by Lycaste at 8:16 PM on October 13, 2005


cool
posted by nola at 8:44 PM on October 13, 2005


Would you like to buy this TV? It's wafer-thin!
posted by ddf at 8:45 PM on October 13, 2005


I had the same response y'all did:
"Does that mean the future is finally here?" and "Cool, we'll have photographs like in the HP books!"
posted by deborah at 8:49 PM on October 13, 2005


Sounds interesting--I can't WAIT to sit up close to some guy on a plane as he enjoys moving images leaping off the pages of his copy of Swank.
posted by Kibbutz at 8:51 PM on October 13, 2005


they should skip straight to making toilet paper out of this.

Can you imagine the satisfaction used as you describe during the next broadcast State Of the Union!
posted by Peter H at 8:55 PM on October 13, 2005


Would you like to buy this TV? It's wafer-thin!

Sorry, I can't consume another byte.
posted by soyjoy at 9:03 PM on October 13, 2005


soyjoy FTW!
posted by dazed_one at 10:05 PM on October 13, 2005


Well, as long as they can't put sound in these things, it may be as simple as ignoring plasma screens in shop windows.

Yeah, sound could be a problem, but what if someone produced some cool little device that you could simply have sit in your ear that would tune into various screens around you? You could call it something like... a seashell....
posted by weston at 10:06 PM on October 13, 2005


Interesting.
*goes back to working on EMP device*
posted by Smedleyman at 10:34 PM on October 13, 2005


If I can finally get a cheap DRM-free device with, say, a couple of Gb of flash memory, using this stuff for a display, on which to read my 10,000+ ebooks (which I currently read in bed on my ancient Thinkpad, which is far from ergonomically optimum), I will dance a dance of techy joy.

There've been too many vapourware announcements of this kind of thing over the past few years for me to get my hopes up too high, however.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:11 PM on October 13, 2005


Will my TV-B-Gone work on it?
posted by cali at 12:02 AM on October 14, 2005


I'm with rockabilly_pete. This is going to devolutionize advertising. Plus you are going to see some seriously bent skank wear made out of this. Moving images on crotches and asses will only be titilating for some.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:07 AM on October 14, 2005


My first thought was "how does this thing degrade?" I mean if it's meant for ephemeral stuff like magazines and it's to be treated like plastics, recycling will be much more difficult, and personally I wouldn't like to use the toilet paper it would make... (It's my week to be in charge of recycling in my flat - it shows).

But as a more constant medium to read ebooks on, as stavros says, I'm all for it.
posted by mummimamma at 12:08 AM on October 14, 2005


This. Is. Awesome.

*is wowed, and not bothering to think about the consequences for now, unlike others above her*
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:25 AM on October 14, 2005


I'm getting bored of technology.
posted by piscatorius at 12:26 AM on October 14, 2005


Actually this is great. Rooms wallpaped with this stuff would be quite impressive. You could sit in your armchair surrounded by any enviroment imaginable. The possibilities are awsome. On the other hand, this will probably stop me going out and making friends.
posted by piscatorius at 12:38 AM on October 14, 2005


This is very un-awesome. The title of the press release is "Wafer-Thin Color Displays for Packaging."
posted by shoos at 12:40 AM on October 14, 2005


I've been waiting for technology like this to arrive ever since I read Steel Beach. E-ink is a good start, but it seems like this would be WAY ahead of the pack.
posted by antifuse at 1:34 AM on October 14, 2005


shoos, you're missing the point. The article talks about packaging to indicate how low the price-point of this stuff will be.

The point is, if it's light and cheap enough to be used as packaging, it's certainly light and cheap enough to be used in clothes/wallpaper/photoframes/whatever, as people have been suggesting above... The military potential alone (in terms of camouflage) is staggering.
posted by runkelfinker at 2:12 AM on October 14, 2005


Actually this is great. Rooms wallpaped with this stuff would be quite impressive. You could sit in your armchair surrounded by any enviroment imaginable. The possibilities are awsome. On the other hand, this will probably stop me going out and making friends.
posted by piscatorius at 2:38 AM CST on October 14


Fahrenheit 451, anyone?
posted by Talanvor at 2:25 AM on October 14, 2005


Metafilter: where the cool, and only apparently cool, are vetted.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:43 AM on October 14, 2005


runkelfinker: you missed my point, which was that using disposable monitors for packaging all the crap people buy will just lead to a lot of high-tech plastic waste, which is what is un-awesome. And as the release makes clear, they are looking at using this technology specifically for packaging.

Although if you would like to swallow Semens' load, the packaging, with the displays, can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material. How lovely.
posted by shoos at 2:56 AM on October 14, 2005


shoos writes "Although if you would like to swallow Semens' load, the packaging, with the displays, can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material. How lovely."


Well, Seimens is a German company. I believe there are laws in Germany which require manufactures to factor in the cost of recycling or ecologically disposing their products, so I imagine this will be possible.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:16 AM on October 14, 2005


You know that Strange Days virus that turned out to be people becoming sick from too much information?

Often these days I feel like I'm catching something. There just may be only so much our brains can process at one time; this -- everywhere -- is going to be overload!
posted by enakaja at 6:23 AM on October 14, 2005


I believe there are laws in Germany which require manufactures to factor in the cost of recycling or ecologically disposing their products

From the press release: "the displays...can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material."
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on October 14, 2005


This is so Marty McFly.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:02 AM on October 14, 2005


disgusting invasion of privacy and decency.

and how environmentally friendly is it to increase the usage of electricity for the sake of elbowing in brands everywhere? do a sustainability study & get back to me, mkay?
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:06 AM on October 14, 2005


From the press release: "the displays...can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material."

what does that mean? It's very refreshing that they've put thought into incorporating more of the real costs into production and scale, but does that mean they can be recycled into other plastic materials?

'recycling electronics,' to me, still means sending circuit boards to china to have the toxic metals dissolved and picked out by low-wage laborers.
posted by eustatic at 8:20 AM on October 14, 2005


If these things have batteries, or photovoltaic strips, won't they be a recycling nightmare?

That said, I'm waiting for Hackworth's advertising chopsticks.
posted by Aknaton at 8:53 AM on October 14, 2005


I am going to be wearing metafilter soon!
posted by srboisvert at 9:21 AM on October 14, 2005


If these things have batteries, or photovoltaic strips, won't they be a recycling nightmare?

I read that a prophylactic strips and believe me, yes, they indeed would.
posted by Peter H at 9:24 AM on October 14, 2005


dammit, I mean "I read that as" - I can't proof right today. Anyway, condom as tv joke remains!
posted by Peter H at 9:25 AM on October 14, 2005


This is the good stuff. Fold it up, put it in your pocket, blue tooth to the Treo phone, browse the web in a readable format at your leisure.
posted by mygoditsbob at 9:33 AM on October 14, 2005


shoos: Although if you would like to swallow Semens' load

Bravo for such a witty statement! Much appreciated in Mulpland.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2005


Thanks for noticing that. Not many people around here appreciate that sort of sophisticated humor.
posted by shoos at 2:31 PM on October 14, 2005


enakaja wrote: You know that Strange Days virus that turned out to be people becoming sick from too much information?

The movie Strange Days mentions no such virus.
posted by ryanrs at 5:37 PM on October 14, 2005


Although the ugly commercial applications of this will probably be appalling - the first time my cereal box plays the Apple Jacks commercial on its face will be interesting, but after that it will get old MIGHTY fast - there is a lot of awesomeness that can come of this.

First of all, TVs and monitors made of this stuff would be far more easy to recycle than current ones, even LCD monitors, which are full of all sorts of toxic crap. Seems like these devices would also use a fraction of the power of even LCDs (which use a fraction of what CRTs use), so there's energy savings to be had. They would even work using ambient light, so they wouldn't need to be backlit, at least not all the time. In a dark room it would help, but you could just have a lamp on your desk.

Of course the implications for portable computing and video viewing are pretty impressive.

I agree that some pretty over-the-top skankwear will come of it. Hip hop clothes that actually play your favorite artist's videos all day, yow! And yeah, the camouflage? Whew!

However, the upshot of this that I want to see is, as I've described in other threads, the 30x42 drawing table where the surface is all one big touch-sensitive display with Wacom-tablet like functionality, so I can just draw right on the screen. Virtual paper, visible sheets that I can manipulate with my hands, rotating or moving the sheet to any comfortable position, lay a ruler or circle template on it (or use very powerful virtual versions of same), and just bloody draw, without all the "artificialness" of the computer interfaces we have now.

Don't get me wrong, I do fine with what we have, but there's always some part of it that gets in my way and slows me down. I want something where I can work as fast as I can on paper or canvas, with the added power of the computer just making everything even quicker and easier.

This here sounds like the killer hardware for that app. Once they've got it up to where it will display-refresh as fast as an LCD, a 96-pixel-per-inch tabletop will just be a matter of enough video RAM and processing power to address a 2880x4032 30fps RGB display. Which probably already exists already!

Oh, and actually, you could make a true reflective CMYK display out of this, lit with a calibrated 5500K light source. Fully calibrated inks for the display chemicals. A graphic artist's dream - the art on your monitor would look EXACTLY like what will come off the offset press. No more Matchprints!! No more guesswork! No more compromises!

Ahhhhh. What a happy thought. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 5:53 PM on October 14, 2005


In Strange Days some people have some brain burnout from too much simstim. Or... was that Neuromancer? I forget. Too much information in my brain.

OH NOES!!!11!!11!! I done come down widdit! :O
posted by zoogleplex at 5:55 PM on October 14, 2005


Let's not get ahead of ourselves...

Because they last only a few months, this solution is only feasible for merchandise with high throughput rates or short-use durations

So no, no wallpaper, drawing tables, or other non-ephemeral applications. It doesn't look nearly flexible enough for clothing, either, based on that photo. (They do talk about 'printing on paper or foil', but I wonder about fragility.)

can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner as a composite material

This is corporate-speak for "this product cannot be recycled."
posted by ook at 11:32 AM on October 15, 2005


« Older Catholic church warns of the danger of fundamental...  |  Bush Ignores Generals and Admi... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments