LG Display TV, maker behind the world's first slab OLED TV, is ramping up production of transparent OLED displays.
As reported by Pulse News, LG plans to double production of commercial displays that are aimed at storefronts and public announcements, although it remains an open question whether transparent TVS could eventually be pushed to the home, which seems increasingly likely as scale production gets even bigger. .
LG is currently the market leader in commercial displays worldwide, with 39,7% of sales as of early 2019, although the company says it wants to increase the percentage of OLEDs in that yield from around 20-30% to over 50%.
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The Case for Transparent TVs
There is a clear transparent case for signage and displays in public areas, given the practicality of being able to view from the front or back – ideal for customers in roaming shops and wanting to see information from multiple perspectives. OLED screens, too, tend to be better for off-axis viewing than their LCD counterparts (although the ultra viewing angles in Samsung's 2019 lineup are catching up).
The greater production expense of a transparent display, however, makes it a less common feature in home televisions. What can be changed.
LG's subsidiary rival maker Samsung filed a patent for what's called 'Window TV' last year, which is likely to add to the company's range of 'Lifestyle' TVs such as the Samsung frame, or the Samsung wall. There's little to go on the side of the name at the moment, though that suggests a commercially available transparent TV is likely on the way.
Panasonic also unveiled a transparent TV prototype (see picture below) that uses a "high-contrast light film" between two panes to reproduce images "even in brightly lit rooms" (via Panasonic.net). However, we do hear something like retail price, release date.
We know that LG is working on a transparent, foldable smartphone, with a slabbing OLED TV hitting shelves before the end of the year. It is, of course, to experiment with new form factors, even if these features will appeal to the high-end rather than the average gadget shopper.
We've been here before
Now Samsung is not working in the lab. The companies behind the technology are developing their competing QLED displays, which are, in essence, LCD TVs with increased brightness and a quantum dot filter to increase the contrast of the image on the screen.
Samsung also previously offered transparent OLED models, although it ditched the risk of returning in 2016, most likely due to poor sales. At the time, an outside source told TechRadar that this was because "global numbers are not high enough for Samsung to justify investment [in transparent OLEDs]."
So, can transparent panels make a comeback? As always, a cool feature that generates public interest doesn't always translate into sales. But if transparent LEDs continue to sell well in commercial displays, maybe it's not too much of a stretch - or a cost for LG and its rivals to start offering transparent panels for the home, even in small quantities.
- See our five-star review of the LG C9 OLED