Google is investigating ambient computing’s hidden displays and interfaces.

The long-term objective of Google with its hardware is to have assistance-always-on technology. Google has recently been working on hidden interfaces, where the display is invisible unless it is being utilized. This has a mirror-finish screen, like the 2020 Nest Thermostat.

Today, Google Research detailed its work on these Hidden Interfaces for Ambient Computing . This is merely an investigation into concealed displays and has little to do with genuine Google hardware.

Instead of merely adding screens, which may easily disturb a visual space since they become monolithic surfaces or black screens when powered off or not in use, a seamless integration of devices involves adaptation to existing aesthetics and user patterns.

AMOLED is too expensive and difficult to manufacture, according to the business, for ambient computing, and LCD and E-Ink do not have enough brightness to penetrate materials.

Google chose passive-matrix OLEDs (PMOLEDs), which have a straightforward architecture that drastically lowers cost and complexity. However, by moving to parallel rendering rather than scanline rendering, it first reduced flicker and enhanced brightness. The complete blog has the differences are detailed .

We use a PMOLED display with 12896 resolution and all row and column drivers routed to a connector for direct access to construct proof-of-concept hidden interfaces. We directly interface those 224 lines from a Raspberry Pi 3 A using a bespoke printed circuit board (PCB) with fourteen 16-channel digital-to-analog converters (DACs). A ring-shaped PCB with 12 electrodes placed in arc segments surrounding the LCD enables touch interaction.

Demos of a scaling clock, caller ID display, zooming countdown timer, and music visualizer were the end result of the project, which entailed developing an effective font for the new display technology.

Animations can be exceedingly fluid thanks to the per-frame adjustment of font characteristics and the high frame rate of the display. In comparison to fixed 7-segment LED displays, this capacity considerably increases the expressivity of rectilinear images.

Google hidden displays
Google hidden displays

On majority of the materials tested, including a mirror, cloth, wood veneer, and acrylic, the parallel PMOLED outperformed the AMOLED in terms of brightness.
The team’s long-term goals include intricate vector drawings and visuals, as well as more effective hardware designs.
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