Google X Project: Building Large-Scale Modular Video Displays

Google X, Google’s secretive advanced projects lab, is currently developing large-scale video displays that are comprised of smaller modular screens intended to plug together like Legos to form a seamless image. According to people familiar with the previously undisclosed project, the displays can be configured in different shapes and sizes. The project is led by Mary Lou Jepsen, former MIT professor who co-founded the One Laptop Per Child project and three startups involving display technology.

google311Jepsen’s startup Pixel Qi focuses on low-power displays designed for reading in direct sunlight. Her display division inside Google X includes engineers from Samsung and Qualcomm, among others.

 

“Much about her current project isn’t known, including the size of the modules, the potential size of the giant display, or why Google is interested,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “In theory, such a large screen might be used to watch television or movies, browse the Internet and read email, perhaps simultaneously, said Riddhi Patel, research director at NPD DisplaySearch.”

Currently, the largest television screens are around 110 inches diagonally. A 105-inch Samsung model presently costs $120,000. Patel suggests that manufacturers would have to make ultra-large screens more affordable and easier to install and use for consumers to adopt such technology.

“Among the problems that the group is trying to solve, the people familiar with the project said, is how to make display modules that are ‘seamless’ so that people looking at a giant screen wouldn’t see the borders between the modules,” notes WSJ. “The project remains at an early stage and has been kept secret, even within Google, partly because the technical challenges are as large as the planned screens, one of the people said.”

The project has interesting possibilities if it can overcome the technical challenges. “This is important because a solution that can create a modular seamless display can redefine the CE display market,” said ETC’s Phil Lelyveld. “Why buy a high-priced 4K TV when you can assemble one out of modules?”

ETC consultant George Gerba suggested that another option could involve “making ‘printed’ screens from micro sprayed nano dots in giant billboard ink jet printers, that currently exist, and cut the screens to fit the space and then provision the video to fit the resultant screen definition.”