A couple of years ago, Samsung stole the show at CES with the introduction of "The Frame" TV, a stunning panel that disguises itself as a piece of framed art when it isn't being watched as a television, complete with a bezel that can be matched to the décor of your room. "Game Changer" was how most journalists described the Frame TV. It fundamentally solved a problem by turning a large, black screen in the focal point of your room into something beautiful. If you have a beach house, that gorgeous framed photo of a surfer at sunset in the centre of your living room is actually the TV, and no one has to know. When I saw Samsung's Frame TV for the first time, I knew it was indeed a game changer. It still is. But now, The Frame has some competition in the "wow" business.
At CES, LG showed off its Signature R, a 65" OLED TV that rolls. When not in use, the panel hides in a low, beautifully designed modern base that also acts as the television's sound system. When you're ready to watch, the panel rolls up from the base to become your television. Mesmerizing is the word I'd use to describe it.
In both instances, television performance is married to out-of-the-box thinking by blending tech into home design elements. In the past, if you wanted a great viewing experience, the TV would have to dominate the room, whether it was on or off. Who would have thought that a new way to get consumers excited about television would be to create a product that doesn't actually look like one?
Yet ironically, the future of TV will still be big panels - even bigger than you can imagine. Sony showcased a stunning 98" 8K LED TV. And Samsung showed a 219-inch modular microLED TV called "The Wall" that was even larger than the 146-inch version the company showed last year. That means the panel is over 18 feet! (A more realistic "home-friendly" 75-inch version was also shown.)
I can imagine the day when a whole wall in a home will be a panel, just like wallpaper. At a dinner party, as the guests load up on Spaghetti alle Vongole and sip Prosecco, the panel might show the Amalfi Coast, presenting the illusion that you're sitting on the terrace of a Positano villa, not in your dining room at home. Clever companies might augment that visual experience with auditory or olfactory ones, like the sounds of an Amalfi breeze and the smell of lemon trees as you watch the ferry hug the coast.
With the flip of a switch, you leave Italy and are transported to the Swiss Alps while everyone indulges in dessert: ice wine and chocolates, of course. The experience changes after dinner as the panel turns into a "live" night club. You and your guests groove to the sounds from the hottest DJ streaming live from Ibiza, who might even give your wife a shout-out in front of 1,000 partygoers who turn to face the camera and wave!
That's the magic of CES, and the aspirational innovations that are shown there. It truly is a playground to get your imagination running wild.