Thinking Tech

Next big thing: 'See through' HDTVs

Posting in Design

The Loewe Invisio, a striking concept for a flat screen "see through" television, offers a glimpse into the potential of TOLED technology.

For designer Michael Fribe, the future of television has never been so clear.

The Loewe Invisio, his striking concept for a flat screen "see through" television, has been getting a lot of attention lately due to rumors that Apple is in talks to acquire Loewe's. Some tech experts have speculated that the world's top consumer tech company may be eying the cutting-edge TV manufacturer -- and perhaps Fribe's idea -- as part of a larger plan to develop and launch a entirely new line of TV sets.

However, Loewe's CEO Oliver Seidl put all the speculation to rest on Tuesday when he denied having any such negotiations with Apple. But regardless of whether or not Apple or Loewe's actually brings the promise of transparent TVs to fruition, there's a strong likelihood they'll start showing up in living rooms soon enough.

Here's why:

First, if you've been watching the evolution of TV sets, you'll notice that the ongoing trend has been about figuring out how to offer an immersive visual experience while at the same time being as beautifully minimalist as possible. This translates to generating richer, full-sized projection from increasingly inconspicuous and thinner flat screens. No doubt Apple has played a major role in pushing this kind of aesthetic with sleek, simple, yet powerful devices such as the MacBook Air, iPhone and iPad.

Secondly, what separates Fribe's concept from some of the more overly imaginative ones out there is the fact that the technology for transparent television not only exists, but is also only getting better and better.

“As the first of its kind, the Loewe Invisio introduces technical innovation, combining conventional LCD and the latest TOLED display technology," Pribe told Yanko Design. "This allows to create non-transparent / solid moving pictures with rich color reproduction and full contrast range from solid black to pristine white.”

While ultra-thin LCDs have become fairly ubiquitous, TOLED displays, better known as transparent organic light-emitting device, is a lesser-known technology that's on the verge of revolutionizing the industry. Currently under developed by the Universal Display Corporation, TOLEDs are made by embedding transparent electrodes and light emitting materials in an organic light-emitting device (OLED) into thin, transparent sheets of glass. The screens are capable of emitting light from the top or bottom and features 70 percent transparency.

Samsung recently provided a glimpse of the technology at the Consumer Electronics Show when they demoed their new Smart Windows interactive display. At the time, the company had enough confidence in the concept that they announced plans to have a product on the consumer market by the end of the year.

What do you think? Is a nearly "invisible" television the next big thing in home entertainment?

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure