Transparent displays aren't really new in the technology industry, but this year at CES we're seeing some pretty amazing examples of them. There's LG's 18-inch display, which you can roll up like paper. And I just stopped by Panasonic's booth to check out the company's own transparent display. Unlike LG's, this one's not small enough to hold in your hand; it's meant for the living room. Panasonic's demo showcases the display attached to shelving with various home decor behind it. The wood you see beneath the glass is actually where all the technology is. Inside are micro LEDs that beam out the picture to the glass panel, which isn't completely transparent (Panasonic says engineers aim to get there), but still pretty amazing to see. It looks like any tinted glass you might normally see in someone's living room. And then? Then this happens.
Pretty cool, huh? There are some limitations with the current prototype that Panasonic's got. It maxes out at 1080p resolution, and as I said earlier, Panasonic isn't quite satisfied with the transparency level when the picture turns off. I don't really mind that part. I almost prefer the tint to clear glass. And just imagine the possibilities and what this sort of thing will enable in a few years. Need some notifications in the morning? Weather? News? You won't have to bother turning your cable box on.
And then there's this crazy music app, which I can only hope will eventually be a real thing in oh, five or 10 years. It's like Apple's Cover Flow turned up to 11. In the future.
This is my fifth CES. And while I haven't been blown away by much on the floor this week, I can always find two or three things that get me smiling. This is one of those — even if it's not yet close to a finished product. Eventually it will be. I want this as the centerpiece of my smart home. Controlling your lights and the thermostat is pretty cool, but give me the sheet of glass that automatically displays the weather as I walk by. One piece of advice to Panasonic, though: work on your demo material. I'm not sure this horrifying "kids show" bear adds much to the presentation. It's really just nightmare fuel, if you ask me.