Sharp Develops 'Two-Way Viewing-Angle' LCD
At last, a way to end squabbles over which TV channel to watch - without buying a second set. Sharp Corp. has developed a liquid-crystal display that shows totally different images to people viewing the screen from the left and the right.
One person can be surfing the Internet, using the display as a PC screen, while another watches a downloaded movie or TV broadcast. It also works for watching two TV channels: One person can watch baseball while another watches a soap opera.
The "two-way viewing-angle LCD," announced by the Japanese consumer electronics maker Thursday, will go into mass production this month and will cost roughly twice as much as a standard display.
Sharp will offer the product for worldwide sale, but the Osaka-based company will also supply other manufacturers with the displays for various products expected later this year, said spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama.
Sharp says the technology offers many possibilities.
It could be used in cars so drivers can look at a map while the passenger watches a movie. Or at a store, sales clerks and clients can view different data on the same display simultaneously.
Another possible use is for billboards that display two kinds of advertisements depending on where viewers stand. The display will also work in the regular way and show a single image to all viewers.
One catch is that the images overlap if viewers stand right in front of the screen. Moving a few inches to the left or right may be necessary for a clear view.
Another drawback is that users will have to work out a way to listen to the sounds coming from the different channels. One solution is for one viewer to use earphones.
The technology appears to derive from Sharp's three-dimensional LCD displays, which work by projecting slightly different images to the right and left eyes without the use of special glasses. Sharp has been selling 3D laptops for a few years, aiming them mainly at engineers, architects and other professionals.
A U.S. startup, Deep Light LLC, plans to launch its own monitors next year that can present several different images to different viewers in 3D without glasses.