The conjoined Sharp/NEC display company has started formally marketing the projection on switchable glass solution that the old NEC started showing at trade shows about three years ago.
The idea is that you have electrically controlled interior glass that can be clear when it needs to be, or switched to opaque – for privacy or as a projection surface. The latter is, of course, the digital signage element of the solution.
Called Active Scene, the glass is a partnership with the graphics company Avery Dennison, using its Vela smart window film.
The two main applications are retail: for shop windows in malls and glass divider walls; and for workplaces, notably as privacy glass in aquarium-style meeting rooms.
The pitch is, in part, that this is flexible – whereas more conventional options like flat panel displays and LED video walls are permanent and block views out windows. Transparent LED is either not very transparent because of the grid systems that hold the LEDs, or low resolution so they are transparent-ish. Projection on a film is also an option, but projection films are semi-permanent and don’t just go on and peel off on a whim.
The downside of these solutions is the same as all projection solutions – the battle with ambient light. Brightly lit spaces – like a lot of retail – tend to mute the colors on projected surfaces. The darker the space, the better these will look.