Author(s): Peter Bryer
It's the type of crazy convergence seen in movies: a living room window that doubles as large, high-definition display.
Many interesting concepts were showcased at IFA 2015, but Panasonic caught the imagination of attendees with a prototype future TV that lives within a household window. Gesture controls allow video content to be "flicked" into the glass.
Panasonic stresses that this is a product for the future, but it gives an indication of what the smart home might look like a decade or two down the line: even some windows will be smart, juggling several roles.
Further examples on show at IFA included Panasonic's interactive make-up mirror and Samsung's mirror display, both picking up from earlier work on magic mirrors by eBay and Intel. Samsung also demonstrated its translucent OLED display, intended to liven up retail windows with moving images and information about the goods.
Chinese company Haier demonstrated its Smart Window refrigerator, another highly impressive and window-centric product. The fridge appears ordinary until it's approached, but the front becomes transparent when motion sensors detect a person, enabling the contents of the fridge to be seen before the door is opened. Haier says the refrigerators will go on sale in 2016 in Asia and Europe.
It's clear that the use of screens and smart windows is spreading across homes. From counters to stoves to mirrors, screens are becoming a new type of building material for surfaces. Tech companies like Corning, Intel and Samsung have for years shown visionary videos of houses and offices practically built from displays. It's nice to see some of these visions becoming reality.