CES has this unique way of making the seemingly impossible feel like reality. From flying cars to robot housekeepers, manufacturers cease to amaze at this annual gathering of technology masterminds — and CES 2021 was no different, despite its all-digital nature.
Looking specifically at the video and display category, that past several iterations of CES brought out some of the biggest leaps forward this space has ever seen. Screens have gotten larger, brighter, more detailed and packed with millions more pixels than ever before. 8K is becoming an affordable reality. And new advanced processing behind these panels continues to drive impressive content upscaling capabilities to new heights.
But innovation in this space has exploded through the black box that hangs on the wall and completely redefined what it means to have a TV in the home.
Just a handful of years ago, Samsung introduced The Frame, which was all about making the TV blend into its surroundings by displaying art in a lifelike manner. They’ve also introduced The Wall, a customizable setup centered around microLED panels. LG grabbed global attention just two years ago when it unveiled its OLED R product, the rollable display that could completely hide the display inside of a box that’s just a little bit larger than a standard soundbar.
You can also look at the smaller cousin of the TV category — smartphones — to find even more display innovations. Many brands have now launched foldable phones in a variety of shapes and sizes. And, at this CES, we got our first glimpse at the possibilities of transparent and rollable phone displays.
One product in particular that stood out was a 17-inch rollable tablet from TCL and CSOT. The device resembles a 16thcentury map built using 21st century technology. In videos of the display, it featured all of the same smartphone/tablet functionality you’d expect out of the devices we’re familiar with today, but it could be rolled up and fit perfectly inside of a small poster holder.
In other transparent display demonstrations, LG showed off a transparent OLED TV that was housed inside something that resembles the footboard of a bed.
The transparent concept isn’t new — and it’s not even the first time LG showed this kind of technology. It’s been available in the commercial space for advertising and marketing purposes for years. But the fact that it’s now making its way into the home should be seen as a majorly exciting opportunity for the retail community.
Premium displays have always been a place where Independent retailers have excelled. The opportunity to offer unmatched white glove service to customers is something big box simply can’t compete with. But, let’s be honest, this is a market that hasn’t experienced much in the way of innovation at retail. Look at TV displays in stores around the country and you’re likely to see similar setups where they are positioned next to or near each other. Content has to run on those screens otherwise the store would be filled with giant black boxes on the walls or shelves.
Over time, as these concepts become a reality those areas of retail showrooms will start to look much different. And not only will the proliferation of transparent of flexible displays change the way showrooms look, they’ll also change how sales associates can talk about these products.
Unthinkable just a few years ago, TV designs are starting to cater to the design and functionality of a space while also providing that eye-popping visual entertainment experience. Consumers are in search of ways to transform that black hole on their wall into something that’s more pleasing on the eye when not in use. Or, in the case of rollable displays, they’re looking to remove it from the setting altogether.
Either way, CES 2021 proved that, beyond just (insert number)K and screen size, there’s still plenty of room for innovation in the display arena.