Most digital signage displays all have one thing in common: They use glass as the substrate on which images are shown.
Corning Inc. has been providing glass for displays as long as there have been displays, puts Gorilla glass on smartphones and set the digital signage sector (among others) abuzz with its "A Day Made of Glass" videos showing a future world of ubiquitous and immersive display and computing technologies.
(Picture, for instance, a digital signage display mirror in your bathroom that also acts as a day planner and organizer.)
Dr. Peter Bocko, the CTO for the Glass Technologies Group at Corning Inc., delivered the first keynote address at the recent Digital Signage Expo 2013 in Las Vegas, " Looking Forward by Looking Back: A Futuristic Retrospective on the Trends in Display & Digital Signage," that looked at the future of immersive computing and the role digital signage will take in leading the way.
Bocko started off by showing the second ADMOG video, "A Day Made of Glass 2," (see below) before taking a survey of the history of glass itself throughout human history. He then delivered a glimpse of new glass technologies — flexible glass, sculptural glass, glass that reproduces audio — before offering the opinion that the digital signage industry will be at the forefront of the glass and immersive computing revolution that could make the real future closer to the potential future of "A Day Made of Glass."
The digital signage industry "gets it" and is the sector "taking risks" to get there, Bocko said, referring to the idea and utility of ubiquitous and immersive connectivity and display technology that plugs people into their environments on a new level.
"Here is where the rubber's hitting the road to get to this future that we find so attractive," he said at DSE.
More vivid, powerful glass substrates extend the scalability, usability and immersiveness of displays and blurs the physical and the virtual, he said. And new glass advances will create form-factor freedom that can drive application diversity and new user interfaces, making them even more intuitive and collaborative — "but we've still got far to go," he said.
"Modern displays are still bricks and boxes," he said, referring to the form factors of smartphones/tablets and display screens. And because of this, the relationship between people and devices is backward, with people's environments and users' lifestyles dictated by the limitations of the device form factor, he said. People set up their living rooms to fit their TVs, and not the other way around, he said.
Unlike in the past, when the consumer market has driven advances that have then spread to the digital signage field, public display and digital signage will be leading the way to the future, Bocko said. Take for instance 3D technology, he said: It has so far failed to really catch on in the home, but it is being used to great effect in point-of-purchase displays in retail to grab consumers' attention and increase sales.
Corning relishes the opportunity to work with the digital signage industry, he said, because it will take a key leadership role in developing the future seen in the ADMOG videos.
As a further example, Bocko pointed out what he initially thought of as the "most implausible" effect in the "A Day Made of Glass 2" video, the 3D-projection-ready screens — that is, until he saw a digital signage firm using water mist as a substrate onto which to project 3D images.
"This is just another example of where new technologies will be embraced first by [the digital signage] community ... before the consumer market," he said.