December 8, 2022

Although transparent OLEDs haven’t really become mainstream yet, it’s worth thinking about some of the places they could actually be useful. Take the OLED Shelf, for example – an award-winning concept from LG. Designed to blend right into your home’s decor, the OLED shelf comes with a mantelpiece on top, and a transparent glass panel on the base, running all the way to the floor. Where reality truly blurs into magic is when a part of the transparent glass panel comes to life with pixels, turning into a television. Designed to be a shelf, television, notification center, or even an ambient light, the OLED Shelf truly puts transparent displays to good use – and with the ability to selectively activate pixels, it really creates an experience that feels magical, with transparent glass suddenly turning into opaque dynamic images!

Designer: LG Display Co., Ltd.

With every sufficiently advanced technology, its most important metric of success comes from its perceived application. A good product drives customer adoption, which then helps bring down the price of the tech, making it even more accessible. It’s the reason why folding phones and rolling TVs have failed to bring down the price of flexible OLED touchscreens because the tech hasn’t become the commercial success companies hoped it would. Transparent OLEDs suffer a similar fate – the right product isn’t driving the right demand, which is a prerequisite to help bring costs down and production up. That’s where LG’s OLED Shelf hopes to rectify things.

Sort of a Serif TV moment for transparent displays, the OLED Shelf is both a television as well as a mantelpiece, allowing you to place objects on top of it. The TV, for the most part, remains transparent (and therefore blank), but switch it on and the glass magically springs to life. The plain wall behind the TV provides the perfect blank canvas to allow you to see images clearly (a patterned wallpaper would probably create a visual conflict). Moreover, the transparent panel can be more than just a TV, doubling up as a space for widgets, notifications, or even as a faux fireplace!

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The OLED Shelf is a winner of the Red Dot Design Concept Award for the year 2022.