We all complain about endless video conference calls, but have we all forgotten how much worse it is to sit in a conference room while someone scribbles notes on a whiteboard? Here’s at least one clever alternative that might make brainstorming sessions less excruciating: a digital screen that simulates writing on a fogged up shower door.
The prototype was created by a team from a Japanese creative agency called Image Source (which it shortens to IMG SRC because vowels are so uncool) as part of an in-house hackathon that challenged designers and engineers to come up with interesting uses for transparent LCD displays.
The technology often makes a big splash at tradeshows, but finding practical uses for transparent screens has so far been a bit of a challenge. Do you really want to be able to see through the TV in your living room, revealing the rat’s nest of cables behind it? Other applications have seen transparent screens used to provide a sneak peek inside a fridge, and many convenience stores have adopted the technology as a way to cover display cases in advertisements for products and sales. The most practical use for transparent LCDs has been in hospitals, where rooms with large windows can be made private at the push of a button that causes the panels to instantly become opaque.
That’s presumably what inspired this team of designers from IMG SRC, who in just two months created the “Wipe Fake” prototype. The transparent LCD screen was paired with a touchscreen interface that reacts to swipes and finger gestures to wipe away the opaque parts of the panel, revealing what’s behind it like a layer of steam and humidity being wiped off a shower door. The effect looks especially convincing thanks to the virtual water drops that appear to run down the panel as the thin layer of simulated humidity coalesces into larger drops.
Is it the most practical alternative to a whiteboard when it comes to jotting down and working through ideas? Probably not, but just think back to how many eureka moments you’ve had while in the shower. Maybe simulating that environment with the Wipe Fake display at work might foster that creativity, but with your clothes on.