Have you seen the ultra-cool A Day Made of Glassvideo by Corning, which was a viral sensation last year and has received nearly 17.5 million views? It shows a family using all sorts of glass surfaces on countertops, refrigerators, and in cars for viewing and manipulating video, photos, work files and more.
Now Corning has a sequel—sort of—calledA Day Made of Glass 2: Unpacked, showing thin glass tablets that sync with glass wall systems to display all of a person’s schedules, music and other cool applications like HD and videoconferencing.
Corning shows a glass closet door turned to a display, electric-chromic windows that dim or brighten on demand, car dashboards made of glass that can change appearance and functionality—and even talks about improving the aesthetics of solar panels for a more “attractive architectural future.”
It’s all cool stuff, though much of it still likely a few years off (electric-chromic windows are already available). Corning, maker of Gorilla Glass used for many smartphones and tablets, says it is helping to deliver large edge-to-edge displays and is looking for partners for operating systems and apps to seamlessly transfer content between tablets and displays. The Corning spokesman in the video says that “proximity sensing authentication is all that’s needed to establish a pairing” between an interactive glass video wall and tablet.
How Far Off?
Some of the scenarios Corning shows in its newer video feature transparent displays, and considering transparent TVs shown at the recent Consumer Electronic Show by companies like Samsung and Haier, a world of glass as Corning sees it may not be so far off.
Samsung has shown a transparent TV that can display images while allowing you to still see behind it, and at this year’s CES showed a transparent smart window with manipulated images and files, a la Minority Report.
Haier showed a 22-inch transparent OLED (organic light emitting diode) TV, but with only 8-bit color. So getting quality HD on a transparent screen appears to be a hurdle to overcome. Ample backlighting, color and black levels will also need to be addressed.
Then there’s the whole issue of electronics in large transparent displays, and what about the fiber optics required for such heavy bandwidth needed for some applications? Or will wireless technologies advance that much?
Will this take years, a decade or more? Though very, very cool, Corning’s vision for a home of glass surfaces looks more far-fetched than that of digital signage and other commercial displays, where such a technology may be more likely to find its roots.
Corning even shows school kids viewing huge glass panels Corning calls “dynamic interactive signage at an entirely different level,” to learn about redwood trees that they’re standing in front of. Then they use glass tablets to see dinosaurs traipsing through the forest.
Corning’s vision, the video states, is a shift in the way we will communicate and use technologies in future ubiquitous displays with open operating systems, shared applications, cloud media storage and unlimited bandwidth.
Though to paraphrase some other bloggers’, Corning’s world of glass vision could lead to a world of smudges and fingerprints. Let’s hope those don’t go viral in another sense. (Corning says it foresees a glass that inhibits microorganisms).
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.