The US Patent & Trademark Office recently published a patent application from Samsung revealing a new smart transparent display system that will be applicable to a head up display (HUD) system, a helmet mount display (MHD) system, a laptop computer, a PC monitor, a TV, a PDA, a tablet PC and into new areas like vehicle windshields and very interesting future retail applications. Samsung has been working on transparent displays for years and today's patent demonstrates their dedication to this project which could have sweeping applications in the future.
Samsung's Transparent Display Invention
Advancement in the electronic technology has introduced use of a variety of display apparatuses in many fields, and increasing numbers of studies and discussions are focused on the next-generation display apparatuses, such as a transparent display apparatus.
A transparent display apparatus refers to an apparatus having a transparency property that permits a user to see through the back of the transparent display apparatus. Conventionally, a non-transparent semiconductor compound, such as silicon (Si) or gallium ascenide (GaAs), was used to fabricate a display panel. However, as various application areas have been explored to expand the abilities of existing display panels, efforts continue to develop new forms of electronic devices. The transparent display apparatus is one of the outcomes obtained by these efforts.
A transparent display apparatus generally includes a transparent oxide semiconductor layer to confer the transparent property to the transparent display apparatus. A user of the transparent display apparatus is thus enabled to see desired information on the screen of the transparent display apparatus, while also viewing objects behind the transparent display apparatus through the back of the transparent display apparatus. That is, spatial and temporal limitations of the related art display apparatuses are removed.
A transparent display apparatus can be conveniently used in various environments. For example, in show window of a shop, an advertisement may be displayed on the show window as a prospective customer passes by the show window, thereby attracting the user's interest.
Alternatively, a transparent display apparatus may be installed on a window of a house, which allows a user to watch multimedia content on the home window, while still enabling the user to view outside the house.
Samsung's invention covers apparatuses and methods consistent with exemplary embodiments that relate to a transparent display apparatus and a display method. More particularly, to a transparent display apparatus that displays an object on the transparent display in consideration of a user's ability to discern objects displayed on the transparent display on respective regions of the transparent display in view of objects behind the transparent display which will be clearer once you see Samsung's embodiments presented below.
Application: Retail Window Displays
The first round of graphics relate to a retail application. Samsung states that the transparent display apparatus (the "smart" retail store outside window/display #100) will be able to detect the positions of the customer and the object #20 (store item), respectively, and estimate an area of the transparent display through which the store item is viewed by the customer. That is, the transparent display apparatus may determine a line of sight from the customer through the transparent display apparatus to the item and determine the area of the transparent display apparatus (store window) through which the customer perceives the item based on the line of sight.
Samsung's retail store application works with a sophisticated camera system which is situated in the retail establishment positioned to look through the storefront window/display watching potential customer movements and reacting to them accordingly with prices and/or additional information depending on the customer's characteristics such as age, gender, nationality and so forth.
In another area of the patent filing Samsung talks about a customer having a card or smartphone equipped with an NFC module. When they approach the smart display in the form of a storefront window, the NFC will communicate with the retailer's system to determine your ID, name, age and so forth.
The system overview below in patent FIG. 28 illustrates that the system will include NFC, voice, face and gesture recognition. In theory, it would be possible one day for a customer to simply look at the front store window of a retail they frequent and check out items in the window with the system reacting by greeting you and providing you with information of items that you're gazing at and possibly give the client a personalized discount to draw the customer in.
In patent FIG. 36 noted below we see a transparent display built onto a rail #36 and a movable camera casing #3600 that could slide back and forth.
The first and second photographing units 111, 121 may be attached to the movable camera body while facing the directions opposite each other. The movable camera body moves according to the user's position.
Going back to FIG. 12 we see the constitution of a transparent display apparatus which rotates the photographing unit to perceive the position of the object or item to suit the gaze direction of the customer.
In patent FIG. 12, if the customer stands at a center outside the show window, looking at an item in the storefront window, the first photographing unit 111 arranged on an upper end of the center portion may perform photographing at a reference position. The information on a bag (#30-1) may be displayed on an area which does not overlap with the position of the stand the item is on (object 20-1) as viewed by the customer. The information on the items is being display on a smart transparent display.
Samsung notes that should a customer move in a certain direction, the first photographing unit may be rotated to suit the direction so that it is possible to accurately estimate the position of the item as viewed from the position of the customer.
Application: Computer Displays
For a future computer display, Samsung notes that in patent FIG. 16 they illustrate an example in which a new object enters the user's view (e.g. a dog). If the dog moves into view, and thus overlaps with the position of displayed information on your display, the position of the displayed information (noted as note #30) on your display will again change to another position.
In patent FIG. 18 we see an example of a portion of the display's information is blocked by a pole in the background. The display would recognize the object and more the text or app to an area where the background object is no longer interfering with your text or document. Nice theory, but I'd like to see that happen in real time to see if it's a gimmick.
Application: Future Vehicle Transparent Display or Smart Windshield
Samsung's patent FIG. 20 noted above illustrates an example in which the transparent display apparatus is implemented in a vehicle. To be specific, the transparent display is implemented on the front glass of the vehicle.
Moreover, patent FIG. 20's information appears on the front glass while the user drives their vehicle. The information #30 noted as "Vehicle in front slowing down" is one example of a smart transparent display system. The types of information that could be displayed include condition of the vehicle, a driving condition, the surrounding environment, etc. For example, GPS information, fuel status, speed, RPM, traffic, or other vehicle information may be displayed on the front glass.
The transparent display of FIG. 20 may alternatively be implemented as a projection type of system. Another alternative could involve a secondary sensor may trace the gaze of the user and the position of displayed information that may be moved according to the user's gaze.
Overview of Samsung's Transparent Display System
Samsung filed their patent application in the US in Q2 2013 and a year earlier in Korea. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time. However, It's not all theoretical as you could see in the video below that Samsung has been working on this for years.
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