Transparent OLED is growing – but are see-through TVs on their way?
LG Display, the TV maker behind the world’s first rollable OLED TV, is ramping up production of its transparent OLED displays.
As reported by Pulse News, LG is looking to double its output of the commercial displays, which are aimed at storefronts and public advertisements – though the question remains of whether transparent TVs could end up being pushed for the home, which seems increasingly likely as manufacture scales up even more.
LG is currently the market leader for commercial displays worldwide, with 39.7% of sales for the start of 2019 – though the company is said to be looking to increase the percentage of OLEDs in that output from around 20-30% to over 50%.
See right through you
There’s a clear case for transparent signage and displays in public spaces, given the practicality of being able to view from either the front or back – ideal for customers roaming stores and wanting to be see information from various angles. OLED screens, too, are generally better for off-axis viewing than their LCD counterparts (though the Ultra Viewing Angle technology in Samsung’s 2019 lineup is catching up).
The greater expense of manufacture for a see-through display, however, makes it a less common feature in home televisions. That could be set to change.
A subsidiary of LG’s rival manufacturer Samsung filed a patent for something called a ‘Window TV’ last year, which would likely add to the company’s range of lifestyle TVs – such as Samsung The Frame, or Samsung The Wall. There’s little to go on aside from the name at the moment, though it suggests a commercially-available transparent TV is likely on the way.
TV maker Panasonic has also unveiled a prototype transparent TV (see image below), which uses “high contrast light film” in between two panes of glass to reproduce images “even in brightly lit environments” (via Panasonic.net). However, we’re yet to hear anything like a retail price or release date.
We know LG is working on a transparent, foldable smartphone, with a rollable OLED television coming to shelves before the year is out. It’s certainly experimenting with some new form factors, even if these features will be the recourse of high-earners rather than the average gadget buyer.
We’ve been here before
Right now, Samsung doesn’t work in OLEDs. The company dropped the technology to develop its competing QLED displays, which are essentially LCD TVs with enhanced brightness – and a quantum dot filter to enhance the contrast of the images onscreen.
Samsung also previously offered transparent OLED models, though ditched the venture back in 2016, likely due to poor sales. At the time, an external source told TechRadar that this was because “the global quantity is not high enough for Samsung to justify the investment [in Transparent OLED].”
So, could transparent televisions make a comeback? As ever, a cool feature that piques the public interest doesn’t always translate to sales. But if transparent OLEDs continue to sell well in commercial displays, it may not be too much of a stretch – or an expense – for LG or its rivals to start offering transparent televisions for the home, even in a small number.