Not all screens are created equal
Among the unusual screens I saw were "1/2" and "1/3" height monitors, ranging from 6" to 42", which provide a new way to present extended landscape content. These were especially well-suited for digital signage applications in public transportation, entertainment and retail. The screens have been "announced" for a while (I remember LG presenting a couple of stretched monitors last May). However, those models were apparently prototypes intended to test market reaction. I've read about a few deployments with stretched screens, but they are still very uncommon.
Image credit: Roberto Vogliolo
Judging a screen by its cover
Another interesting approach to making screens more noticeable and eye-catching is to integrate them with the branding and color scheme of the venue itself. This usually involves dealing with interior designers and companies specializing in the production of custom-made frames or enclosures. A couple of exhibitors were showing off-the-shelf solutions for "dressing" any standard 40" monitor with plastic or steel "skins" available in different colors and styles. These screen skins are designed to be integrated with a full range of wall and ceiling mounting systems. All of the screen bezels are fully certified and the estimated delivery time for standard colors is very quick. I saw the same concept applied to indoor and outdoor totem shells, designed to fit standard monitors from the major producers. These seemed a bit less "stable" in design and production, but I believe they can deliver the product as claimed.
Image credit: Roberto Vogliolo
In an industry whose primary function is to make sure messages get seen, novelty devices have had a decidedly mixed success ratio. On the one hand, flat screens themselves were once unique enough to get noticed on their own, and we've certainly seen a huge adoption of them in all sorts of out-of-home spaces. Likewise, rear-projection and polarized films like 3M's Vikuiti are turning up all over the place, despite reasonably high upfront prices. On the other hand, though, there have been more failed 3D devices than I can count at this point, and some cool gadgets like those 360 degree LCD screens look great, but are too expensive to ever make it into mass-adoption territory.
Nonetheless, the drive to be seen will continue to foster new developments in display technologies. Like the stretched screens, they'll start out in the realm of business services products. But like Microsoft's Surface (or any of the other multitouch and gestural systems that came out right before and after), they might find their way into the home before too long. When that comes to pass, the novelty value decreases dramatically, which could force networks to look for the Next Cool Thing to attract eyeballs.
Flat screens are standard fare now, and 3D has been "around the corner" forever. What new displays or technologies will be the new "gotta have" novelties in the next 2-3 years? Leave a comment to let us know what you think!