Sharp is pretty darn good at making cutting edge displays (its name would be hilarious if they weren’t), but it has outdone itself today announcing the mass production of screens that can show different images depending on the viewing angle.
Two and a half years of research has lead to the breakthrough (which could be the saviour of marriages nationwide) and the potential examples of its implementation are almost too numerous to mention. Think of a husband sat 45 degrees to the right of the screen and able to watch sports, while wife enjoys soaps at 45 degrees to the left, it would eliminate the need for split screen multiplayer gaming, in a car the driver’s side could display a satellite navigation map while the passenger watches a DVD, etc, etc, etc.
So how does this clever stuff work? In a nutshell, by splitting the two images on the screen so that odd number pixel columns contain one image and even numbered pixel columns show the other. The LCD then sends the light from the backlight into the right and left directions. A rough diagram illustrating this is shown below.
One drawback to this technology is that by dividing up the screen pixels the resolutions of each angle would have to be reduced, but on a screen with a high native resolution this should not be too much of a problem. The other drawback will inevitably be price, since at this stage it is unknown just how much the new screens will cost (Sharp indicates they should be cheaper than buying two respectively similarly sized standard displays though).
As for roll out, the technology is immediately going to be used in the company’s next generation televisions, notebooks and monitors (which it expects to have on the market before the end of the year) and will eventually find itself in mobile phones.
In a related announcement Sharp also said it would soon be able to tweak the technology for security purposes so that the screen could be set to mask its contents from anyone other than the user positioned directly in front of it. This would come in very handy for all you road warriors out there working on sensitive information and banks would be crazy not to install it in cash points.
Sheesh, it’s only July and already my Christmas wish list is full... :(