Here’s a case where transparent LED doesn’t look so bad from the rear – the big differences being the tech used and the way these glass room dividers are set in place and used.
This is a project the workplace design firm Gensler did for HP Enterprise, at its headquarters customer experience center in Palo Alto.
There are two sets of six glass panels – each three feet wide by 10 feet high – set at an angle and clad in semi-transparent film that has strips of full-color LED chips. The pixel pitch is 10mm.
The tech is from Vancouver-based ClearLED, though I know the film-based display tech originates from a different company in China that I’ve seen around at trade shows. ClearLED did the work to tidy up the electronics and finish and make it look like it belongs on the divider panels.
LG’s LED film is very nice but is limited by its coarse pixel pitch and resulting low resolution. The much tighter pitch of this tech allows users to do more with visuals, but the trade-off is you go from LED chips and filament wiring that are largely invisible with LG, to something akin to translucent computer ribbon cables that accommodate more electronics and wiring.
The big reason this works is the content. It plays with the glass and the transparency, and doesn’t try to do too much, like communicate messages and be something readable or serviceable. It’s an experience center, and, well, cool visuals in a lobby/break area are part of the experience.
It also works because the design doesn’t treat this as a flat glass curtain wall divider. By angling them, the rear-end of these units isn’t the same visual distraction.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.