New situations for using TVs and new lifestyles that future TVs will create -- Flat panel display (FPD) manufacturers exhibited the concept that they have been proposing over the past year in an effort to put their FPD TVs on the next growth track.
What symbolized the concept were Panasonic Corp's exhibits at CEATEC JAPAN 2008. The company proposed a lifestyle centering on displays three to five years in the future and a specific concept of the future living room in and after 2015.
3 to 5 years in the future: Keywords are "comfort," "health and beauty" and "eco"
Panasonic cited "an advanced audio-visual life in a comfortable space" as the first pillar of the lifestyle three to five years from now (Fig 1). If a large-screen TV in the living room is set to theater mode, for example, blinds will automatically lower to cover windows, while the color and brightness of lamps will change to a relaxing tone (Fig 2). The system will produce a comfortable space for enjoying movies and other audio-visual content.
The room looks simple and tidy with no wires as full HD videos in a recorder are wirelessly transmitted to the TV. The video shot with a camcorder can be wirelessly transmitted and enjoyed on the TV as well.
At mealtime, the TV can be switched from theater mode to dining mode. The large-screen TV will automatically moves from the living room to the dining room. This is a concept that can only be realized with the slim and light FPD TVs.
The blinds are raised so the users can eat dinner while enjoying the night view. Lamps will change the color of their light to make the food look even more appetizing. The ceiling over the table, which also functions as a set of speakers, creates an acoustic field that feels as if the sound were surrounding the people sitting below it (Fig 3).
The second pillar is "a health- and beauty-conscious family life." Connecting health devices such as scales and blood-pressure monitors to the TV, users can monitor the health of family members. The TV recommends exercises for improving health, suggesting, for example, "Let's relax doing Yoga."
A "digital information mirror" that displays various images and Web information is installed in the room. If you stand in front of the mirror, it examines your posture (Fig 4). Furthermore, a Yoga instructor shows up in the mirror. Users can move their body to make a pose as shown by the instructor in the mirror (Fig 5).
The system also proposes recipes for meals in accordance with the user's health condition. If users choose a proposed recipe, the information is transmitted to the small TV in the kitchen. Cooking the recipe is easy because the information is also transmitted to cooking devices such as the electric oven (Fig 6).
The third pillar is "an all-in-one eco life at home." Panasonic is advocating the "visualization of power," in addition to energy-saving refrigerators, air conditioners and other home appliances and energy creation using residential fuel cells and co-generation systems.
The company is making it possible to check (1) the state of device use, (2) whether there is any item that is supposed to be switched off and (3) the amount of power consumption and generation with the TV in the living room by connecting all the appliances in the house to the network (Fig 7).
The amount of power consumption is immediately converted into the amount of CO2 generation. Because users can confirm how far they have approached to their CO2 reduction goals in a TV screen, "It will be easier for the family members to endeavor to save more energy," Panasonic said.
All the appliances in the house are accessible from anywhere
You will be able to enjoy video on the TV not only in the living room. With TVs in the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen all connected to the network, users can continue to enjoy the same audio-visual content even if they have to leave the living room to take a bath or do housework, for example. Audio-visual content can even be taken outside using devices such as mobile phones and automotive TVs (Fig 8).
Not only TVs but also all home appliances are connected to the home network. Even if a user forgets about the laundry being devoted to cooking and television, the TV in the kitchen would speak, "The laundry is done." This is a great function for a forgetful mother, for instance. Even if she could not remember when she last cleaned the air conditioner, it would advise her that, "It is time to clean the filter."
When going out with the whole family by car, you might worry about whether or not you locked the door. Even in that case, you wouldn't need to return home to check whether the door was locked because you could confirm it with the TV in your car. If the door wasn't locked, you could lock it automatically using the TV.
When returning from a vacation, you would be able to direct the network system to open the garage from the car before arriving home. Moreover, users can turn on the lights of the rooms and fill up the bath tab with hot water from the car as well.
From 2015 forward: Displays as large as the living room wall
"The living room TV of the future might be equipped with a display that is as large as an entire wall" in and after 2015, Panasonic said. This concept, which was cited during the keynote speech at "CES" in January 2008, was given a more specific form at this year's CEATEC.
Panasonic calls the wall-sized display the "Life Wall" and exhibited the following conceptual scenes using the display at CEATEC 2008.
In the demonstration, when a woman stood in front of the wall-sized display and held her hand over it, it automatically displayed a menu of information tailored to each of her family members (Fig 9). When she chose an item that she wanted to view from the menu, the content of the chosen item was displayed (Fig 10).
When she moved between right and left in front of the wall, the displayed image followed her motion (Fig 11). In addition, the image was always displayed at a size that was comfortable to view, becoming smaller when she approached the wall and becoming larger when she moved away from it (Fig 12). The display automatically adjusted the size and the position of the image by detecting motions of the user.
It is available to decorate the wall with photos taken with a digital camera during a travel. Demonstrators wirelessly transmitted the photos in the digital camera to the Life Wall and selected and rearranged the order of the photos through simple gestures (Fig 13).
The woman in the demonstration found a photo of a dress she liked. She asked another woman, who was playing her daughter, if the dress suited her, enlarging the image of the dress to life-size and changing its color just by gesturing (Fig 14).
She further explored how the back of the dress looked like by rotating the photo (Fig 15). In this manner, users can simulate a product in various ways before actually making an order at the shop's Website.
The Life Wall also allows users to have a natural conversation with other family members at a distant place viewing their life-size images.
The woman in the demonstration received a TV phone call from her sister, who got married and moved far away(Fig 16). When she picked up the phone, the life-size image of her sister holding her baby was displayed in the screen (Fig 17).
She said to the woman, "I want to show you something." Then the video of the baby walking for the first time with support was played and all her family members cheered up as they watched the video (Fig 18). In this way, users can feel as if they were on the site at that moment when they see the growth of a child whom they have not seen for a while, for example.
Development of elemental technologies making progress
These technologies are not fantasies at all. Panasonic presented details of its development of elemental technologies to realize the conceptual uses of the Life Wall. The elemental technologies include:
(1) The "EZ Touch Remote," which helps realize the easy table-top operation of the wall display
(2) The "Spatial Hand Gesture UI," which leads to the function to automatically adjust the size and position of the video frame by detecting human motions and the gesture operation of the wall display, as well as the UI's core technology "Distant Image Sensor"
(3) The "Realistic Communication System," which leads to the realization of the natural conversation with family members at a distant place using life-size images (Fig 19)
We might be enjoying the 2016 Olympic Games, for which Tokyo is bidding, with a display that covers an entire wall.