Technology Trend: Surfaces as screens

Trend-Monitor Surfaces as screens

As technology enables all surfaces to become screens, the way in which we interact with surfaces in our home environment is changing.

At the CES show in Las Vegas this year Samsung unveiled The Wall – a 219-inch display complete with groundbreaking Modular Micro LED Technology. With its slim depth and seamless flush surface, it demonstrated how it is now possible to create a TV where you cannot see where the screen ends and the wall begins.

surfaces as screens
The Wall by Samsung
As technology enables all surfaces to become screens, the way in which we interact with surfaces in our home environment is changing. Click To Tweet

On LG’s stand at the show the company was showcasing its Massive Curve of Nature – an undulating wall composed of OLED TVs. It also unveiled its Signature Series OLED TV R – a TV that is so thin it can be rolled up like a yoga mat. Positioned on a stand it looks like any TV, albeit a super-thin one. But when it’s not in use, you can simply press a button so that it rolls up and disappears from view.

surfaces as screens
LG’s Massive Curve of Nature

It seems that the more screens can be seamlessly integrated into our surroundings the better.

At this year’s Salone del Mobile, Panasonic revealed the result of a collaboration with furniture brand Vitra – the prototype of a transparent OLED display. When switched on it’s a TV, but when not in use, the concept looks like a glass case on a wooden stand for lighting or displaying art.

surfaces as screens
Panasonic Design’s transparent OLED

But the fact that we want our screens to be invisible doesn’t mean that we want fewer of them – far from it. We actually seem to want them on all kinds of surfaces and in every room.

The kitchen in particular is a key area for surface technology within the home.

The Grundig VUX (Virtual User Experience) hob replaces buttons and knobs in favour of a virtual control panel, which can be displayed onto a standard kitchen worktop via a projector in the extractor hood. The hob can be operated with gestures and provides a cleaner and more streamlined surface.

Vux can beam recipes, cooking information and other handy notes straight onto the countertop, transforming the kitchen worktop into a visual panel. It is also connected to the rest of the kitchen and home and can operate other connected appliances and stream a video from another area of the house.

surfaces as screens
The Grundig Vux hob

The Samsung Family Hub fridge-freezer has a Wifi-enabled touchscreen integrated into the door that lets you manage your groceries, connect with your family, share images, update schedules, and watch TV.

smart surfaces on fridges
Samsung Family Hub Fridge-Freezer

Similarly, Whirlpool’s Connected Hub Wall Oven, another concept unveiled at CES this year, elevates the appliance from simply cooking meals, and has a 27-inch transparent LCD interface instead of a glass oven door. It features the latest touchscreen technology and offers integration of family calendars, personalised recipe suggestions, and step-by-step video instructions.

smart surfaces in the kitchen
Whirlpool Connected Hub Wall Oven

Bathroom surfaces are also heading in this direction, driven by the consumer trend for ‘self-quantification‘ .The bathroom mirror of the future will have the capability to assess the user’s reflection in order to check for abnormalities in skin tone, and track heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature for use as part of their efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The consumer trend for 'self-quantification' is driving the development of bathroom smart mirrors Click To Tweet

At the ISH show in Frankfurt this year, it was clear that this market is advancing.Roca presented a concept revealing how the next-generation smart mirror could assess the user’s reflection for changes to their skin, and then present a ‘skin index overview’, and Toto’s concept smart mirror gave a health assessment following exercise to check the user’s blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. All of these screens look just like ordinary mirrors when disabled.

bathroom smart mirrors
Toto’s Concept Smart Mirror

And the way in which we control surface technology is changing.We recognise that touch screens get dirty and greasy very easily and as a result surfaces are increasingly detecting gestures; not only arm and hand movements, but also facial gestures

Further Reading

Bathroom Design and Innovation Trends Report 2019

The eight bathroom trends featured in this report highlight the evolving role of the domestic bathroom and focus on the shifts in consumer attitudes that are driving this change and impacting on bathroom design and innovation.

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Trend-Monitor-kitchen-design-innovation-report

This report looks at the key trends that influence the way we use our kitchens and highlights the innovations that tap into these trends, not just within the kitchen industry but also the wider environment.

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