14 July 2005

A Whole New Meaning To ‘Picture-In-Picture’

Off of AP this afternoon:

At last, a way to end squabbles over which TV channel to watch - without buying a second set. Sharp Corp. has developed a liquid-crystal display that shows totally different images to people viewing the screen from the left and the right.

One person can be surfing the Internet, using the display as a PC screen, while another watches a downloaded movie or TV broadcast. It also works for watching two TV channels: One person can watch baseball while another watches a soap opera.

The “two-way viewing-angle LCD,” announced by the Japanese consumer electronics maker Thursday, will go into mass production this month and will cost roughly twice as much as a standard display.

According to the article, the new technology will still allow for a single show/screen to be displayed in both directions during those rare moments of channel surfing synchrony. (This is a rather obvious feature on reflection, since it likely just sends the same signal both directions. <shrug>) Aside from the issue of overlapping soundtracks, which likely will require one or both users to wear headphones, I think this is a really sweet piece of technology. It’s like those things that you can turn back and forth and different pictures show up, except that you can play videogames on it. ;-)

Something like this could also really revolutionize net parties by permitting two people to play at one monitor. Assuming the unit has two separate video inputs (and that they’re making a VGA/DVI compatible version) each person could connect his own computer (no offense to Annarchy :-P) and play from either side of the single two-way monitor. Super space-saver! Multi-console multiplayer games (e.g., Halo) might also work out well, though the audio conflict might be harder to resolve (convert from RCA to 1/8” headphone plug and route through a four-way splitter to individual headsets).

Regardless of the various minor issues, the boon to domestic tranquility from this thing is undeniable. Er, well... it’ll do okay until TV watcher number three gets home. :-P


Anonymous said...

At first, I thought this was a really awesome idea, but halfway through reading the post, the implications of it hit me and made me reconsider...
Before the big technological revolution with cable tv's in every home, the internet, and personal computers, people used to spend time together and share experiences that ended up building relationships. However with today's gadgetry, it's very easy for a family of four to spend a whole night in a house together and never interact directly. All this thanks to our wonderful friend, "technology." Now you may say that possibly it is ok to share technology as a mutual experience. Two people playing a video game, for instance, or talking on AIM together, are interacting because the participants share a common purpose. Two people watching a movie or tv show together can also bond by commenting on what they have both seen. It seems distressing to me on some level that now the technology exists where two people could even be zoning out together in front of the same tv and not even have a single thing in common in terms of their viewing experience. Isn't this the ultimate in isolation, alienation, and selfish gratification? If you don't have to make compromises anymore, and you can just get what you want whenever you want it, then really, what is this world coming to?

Brian said...

You raise a very good point—the scope of the post really was focused on the "cool technology" aspect rather than the total societal/personal influence. Technology has been a very good thing for me in many ways—it's helped me keep in touch with family and friends, and is something that I enjoy working with. However, I do think that if I didn't have email and (especially!) Instant Messenger, I'd be far better at keeping in touch with people than I am. Essentially, if I don't chat with someone on IM, I hardly ever communicate with them.

There's no doubt that technology has profoundly impacted family relationships, and you have a very good point that it's already served as a device that drives people apart. Even my proposed space-saving use for the two-way TV at a net party is ultimately only semi-constructive in that it permits interaction between people, the quality of that interaction is still inferior to an activity with more direct interaction, such as chess, softball, or even simple conversation. Technology, for better or worse, is here to stay, and we must adapt to its influence in our lives.

In terms of compromises on television, etc., I think your point could be readily extended to say that the lessons learned and personal growth gained by kids (and even the adults/parents at times) when forced to share a television/computer/game console are extremely valuable. Your point is well taken that the two-way TV panders that much more to our selfish, lazy desires. So, best solution... when (assuming) you have kids, don't get them a two-way TV. :-)