Electronics

Google reportedly working on Lego-like merging displays

Google reportedly working on L...
Google X labs is reportedly working on a modular display made up of many smaller screens (base image: Shutterstock, remixed by Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
Google X labs is reportedly working on a modular display made up of many smaller screens (base image: Shutterstock, remixed by Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Google X labs is reportedly working on a modular display made up of many smaller screens (base image: Shutterstock, remixed by Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)
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Google X labs is reportedly working on a modular display made up of many smaller screens (base image: Shutterstock, remixed by Will Shanklin/Gizmag.com)

We've seen some wild "moonshot" projects out of Google throughout the years. You know, Google Glass, self-driving cars and the like. Well, we can now add one more wacky idea to the list. The internet giant is reportedly trying to figure out how to create a large modular display made up of many smaller displays. The Voltron of screens, if you will.

The scoop comes from the Wall Street Journal, which describes the project as being "at an early stage." The Google X team's aim is to create a modular display technology where smaller pieces fit into a larger-screen puzzle. This meta-display could be created in various shapes and sizes.

The problem the team is trying to solve? Not just to combine these displays, but to combine them in a way where they don't have any visible seams. A WSJ source says that "the big challenge is to electronically, and through software, do the stitching between the seams."

Sounds pretty far-fetched, no? On the other hand, though, "far-fetched" is the foundation that Google X labs are built on.

The biggest question: why? Perhaps Google is envisioning a household where each family member's tablet is spliced together when it's time to sit around the TV? Or maybe teachers could somehow integrate the displays into a classroom? None of these examples conjure images of something worth pursuing, so it isn't quite clear why Google would be bothering with the idea (apart from "why not?").

The report is pretty light on further details. Given the project's reported early-stage status, it could ultimately be a moonshot that doesn't make it out of Mountain View's atmosphere. If nothing else, it's enough to raise some eyebrows.

Source: WSJ

6 comments
David Rochlin
Large outdoor and indoor venue type displays are usually assembled from modular pieces. They have seams, but how obvious the seams are, varies, as does the difficulty of assembly. Perhaps they have covering all the surfaces in a room, in mind.
Malatrope
It's not hard to make seamless joints, it just takes thinking in three dimensions. Run a prismatic strip of glass along the outer edges of the display, and put 5-10 pixels-worth of long linear display mounted at 90 degrees to the main surface, reflecting through the prism all the way to the edge. When pushed together, the edge pixels of the two modules can be within a pixel-width of each other. Software can handle misalignment and brightness calibrations.
damon
Awesome, we can finally start playing Jeopardy at home!
Dave Weinstein
As David Rochlin said, this problem's been solved already... I'm confused. Haven't we already had this technology for nearly a decade? I though that this is the way that outdoor LED signage works. The active LED panels come as small squares (20x20cm for example), and snap together to build a display to whatever size is needed.
rik.warren
Perhaps I can finally get the signage for the rear window of my car where I can select from a message menu a clear directive/ suggestion to my fellow drivers
Steven Gurley
This is completely logical. Over the past few years, Google has become actively involved in the digital out of home market (DOOH) aka digital signage. Modular screens would complement their work in media players and peripheral software components. It should be noted, however, that they are not the first to go after this space. Christie Micro Tiles have been on the market for years.