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Human Experience and Design

Microsoft Research

Disruptive Displays

  • PCB
  • Pixels
  • Autonomous Pixel PCB

Displays are everywhere. They define the form of our devices, and our interactions with them. Today, our laser-sighted pursuit of higher resolution, brightness and framerate, has resulted in devices capable of displaying exquisite imagery, but also in a singular idea of what a display is. Visions of the future have consistently featured displays littering our world…small ones, big ones, but rarely much variation beyond this, generally bright, flat and rectangular.

This project is concerned with exploring what a digital display could be. Instead of focussing solely on image fidelity as the sole measure of a display’s value, we are investigating how certain technological approaches have imposed constraints on form, energy consumption, use of materials as well as their potential to be scaled and be deployed in novel situations.

  • Carbon Copy
  • Lens Array
  • Flash

Our reliance on the ubiquitous row / column scheme for driving pixels has clearly influenced our display monoculture, so we are building experimental displays which remove this reliance, and are instead exploring other solutions to the pixel addressing problem.

Our Autonomous Pixel displays are one example of this, leveraging the photosensitive nature of display TFTs to image surfaces like we might expose an analogue photograph, but with exact digital control over the exposure. 

  • Image 1
  • Image 2
  • Image 3

Our thin, light-weight, robust and wireless Energy-Harvesting displays leverage energy from ambient light, thereby providing an alternative means to power digital displays that allows for multiple updates per hour. Wirelessly connected to other devices, these displays have the form factor of a paper-based post-it note, enabling digital information to be placed in a physical space.

Our goal is to create qualitatively different display surfaces and hopefully enable new opportunities for unique forms of interaction.