LG’s Envisioning Futuristic Sushi Bars With Transparent OLEDs

LG’s Envisioning Futuristic Sushi Bars With Transparent OLEDs
Image: LG
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Even though CES 2021 will be completely virtual this year, that’s not stopping LG from being a lil extra with its OLED demos. This year, the company’s setting up not one, not two, but three flashy demos of its 55-inch transparent OLED display.

Of the three, the most timely demo is an elaborate sushi bar setup. The display doubles as a contactless, physical barrier between chef and guest, as well as a means of flipping through the menu or watching videos. At the same time, it doesn’t totally obscure your view of the chef preparing your meal — which is the coolest thing about eating at a sushi bar. Appropriate, given the pandemic’s impact on indoor dining.

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The company also plans on demoing how the display can be useful in subway cars. More specifically, replacing train car windows with a transparent display so riders can view information like subway maps, weather, and news while also taking in the sights. It’s a cool concept, though probably better suited to areas that have beautiful scenery and not NYC’s crusty subway tunnels. LG demoed something similar in Beijing and Shenzen earlier this year.

LG is also creating a “smart bed” that has its transparent OLED built into a frame that can be placed at the foot of the bed. The idea is that you can push a button, and poof, the display pops out of the frame to “show information or TV contents in various screen ratios.” This doesn’t make quite as much sense as the sushi bar or subway setups, but it’s aimed at folks who want to watch TV or a movie in bed while also seeing the rest of the bedroom. Though, technically, the frame is portable so you could theoretically port it to other rooms where that transparency might be more helpful. (Still, like with Xiaomi’s transparent TVs, it’s unclear who exactly is clamoring for transparent TVs in their homes.) LG is also embedding something it calls Cinematic Sound OLED (CSO) into the frame itself to eliminate the need for external speakers.

Image: Victoria Song/Gizmodo Image: Victoria Song/Gizmodo

LG’s not shy about trotting out its cutting edge display tech — and we’ve seen its transparent OLED before. It’s more like this time around, LG’s trying to make a case for how transparent OLEDs can slot into everyday life. The thing about transparent displays is that while you expect them to work like Minority Report, things like ambient light can make images seem washed out. However, LG claims its transparent OLED doesn’t require backlighting and provides 40% transparency — a step up from the 10% transparency that LG says is typical of current transparent LCDs. It’s legitimately cool tech, though it’s also ridiculously pricy at $US18,750 ($24,398) on LG’s website. In any case, LG at least it’s not the $US87,000 ($113,204) you’d need to fork over for its rollable 65-inch OLED TV.

It’s a bummer that we won’t get the chance to see these demos in person. LG’s CES displays have historically been pretty amazing. The good news is everyone, including the general public, will be able to view the demos virtually starting Jan. 11.

Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.