With Clear Physical Barriers Going Up Everywhere, Is This A Big Moment For Transparent Displays?

May 21, 2020 by Dave Haynes

It is reasonable to suggest that LG’s transparent OLED displays are products that generate a lot of excitement from potential users, but disillusionment when they find out how much the screens cost (hint – LOTS!).

The things are gorgeous, but working out valid use-cases and getting a return on the investment has been elusive. Those screens would be all over the place if the costs were lower … and they HAVE come down since the first ones came out a few years ago at about $15K USD for, I think, a 55″ unit.

I did a web presentation recently for an executive team, talking about trends in these excessively odd times. One of the things I referenced was ALL the glass and acrylic shields going up in retail and other publicly-accessible places, intended to keep people from sneezing and breathing on one another. I suggested all these clear physical barriers presented, perhaps, an opportunity.

It could work for switchable glass and projection, in the right darkened environment. Same for some of the better transparent LED on film product out there (some is onely nominally transparent). And certainly for transparent OLED, though I don’t envision a Kroger or Costco putting up transparent OLED in the cashier lanes.

LG pushed out a marketing email overnight, and one of the use-cases floated for transparent OLED was hotel check-in – in this case, self check-in.

THAT might be an effective set-up – not for a Red Roof Inn off the freeway, but quite possibly for a high-end hotel or resort that is contemplating these countertop shields. If you can communicate welcome information and push people to mobile/web apps or to self-check-in kiosks that work reliably (and have  sanitizer available after), then maybe you have something.

You could imagine something similar for other higher-dollar guest visit settings where people have to check-in and do transactions of some type, that will also have glass or acrylic shields. Certainly, a regular, much less costly LCD or “normal” OLED could be used, but that takes the setting from see-through and visually open, to a sealed bunker.

LG was already touting transparent OLD as an interactive video wall solution for places like virtual auto dealer showrooms in jammed urban areas, malls and even airports – where full, big footprint dealerships are too costly. 

Given the new norms and need to limit one-to-one contacts, that notion might get more traction.

Who really knows? Transparent OLED might still be awesome but out of budget for most digital signage and retail tech applications. But quite abruptly, much of what we do outside of our home and work bubbles will have a sheet of something between us and “them” – whoever them might be. That barrier could also double as a screen, if you could see through it at the same time.


  1. Ken Goldberg says:

    As you mention Dave, transparent OLED is still quite expensive. A more cost effective solution would be a translucent LCD embedded between two panes of glass, for which STRATACACHE holds a patent, and markets as Primasee. We have focused upon the freezer and cooler segments for obvious reasons, but have fabricated fixed windows as well, and the glass shields you reference represent a new use case. The displays can also have a touch overlay, and a hotel could easily provide a PCAP-friendly “pen” to make touch active without the use of fingers. Happy to discuss with you or anyone interested in more info.

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