I need someone to explain this to me.

Using an LCD’s poor viewing angle to your advantage

Early LCD monitors had some pretty awful issues when not viewed from directly in front of the screen. These days the technology has really minimized this flaw, but if you still have a cheap monitor on hand you might want to pull it out and give this hack a try. [Chris Harrison] is using oblique viewing angles to display additional information on cheap montiors.

Take a look at the two images above. The one on the left is taken from directly in front of the monitor and looks normal. But if you view the same screen from the side, the financial information is obscured. This is by design. Using very light colors, the obscuring characters are almost indiscernible from straight on, but you can just see them there a little bit (they look like burn-in does on a CRT screen). But from the side, these light colors become quite bold and blend with the rest of the data on the screen.

This works because of the polarizing filters on an LCD screen. You might want to watch [Bill Hammack] explain how an LCD works if you’re not familiar. Because the viewing angle color changes are a flaw and not a feature, manufacturers make the up-and-down angles the worst to improve on side-to-side viewing. [Chris'] experiments play into that by using a computer monitor on its side. Check out the video after the break to see some of the different applications that he uses this for.

Comments

  1. 42 says:

    wow

  2. Hirudinea says:

    That could come in handy for people shoulder surfing for your passwords, I hate getting nothing but stars when I type my password.

  3. fartface says:

    just buy the LCD privacy film. it’s less than $1.00 a sq foot for the china knock offs.

  4. CT says:

    So simple yet brilliant.

  5. kyle says:

    I don’t know why all bank ATMs don’t do this

  6. ejonesss says:

    @ Hirudinea passwords are always blanked out so your only fear should be un secure pages that dont blank out passwords (getting very rare now a days) and following the keys.

    however it is good when you want to hide your other info like login (user name) and account balances .

    • Hirudinea says:

      I know passwords are blanked out but I was saying I’ed like my passwords not to be blanked out, because I’m a lousy typist and sometimes screw up my passwords, so I’ed prefer to have them not blanked and this would be a good form of security for typing unblanked passwords, or just buy privacy film as fartface said.

  7. MoJo says:

    The low viewing angle is actually considered a feature on IBM Thinkpads. The idea is you can work on the train without the guy next to you being able to read your screen. Obviously not as good as this hack though.

  8. zrzzz says:

    So many things that seemed like annoyances later developed into useful applications. An innovative mind is always looking for things like this.

  9. Mike says:

    End of the world.

  10. SirCmpwn says:

    Wow, that’s pretty neat. I’d bet it wouldn’t be a stretch to make a 3D display based on a similar concept.

  11. pRoFlT says:

    its almost halloween. I half expected a scary face in the side angle view :)

  12. Jeffery MacEachern says:

    I often make brief use of LCD distortion when doing photo touch-up, as it allows me to more easily discern how well colours are blended, or whether low-contrast compression artifacts exist in a large field of colour. I never thought of doing something like this, though. Very ingenious.

  13. wardy says:

    Finally I can use my 12 year old 1024×768 screen for something other than datasheets!

  14. Walter says:

    Cool idea. Only problem with this implementation: anyone with 6 figures on his account is either really exposed or can’t see his balance ;). Other than that great idea, also great for recycling those old screens!

  15. Mark A says:

    Enter your pin
    6 3 1
    4 2 9
    5 7 8
    and no zero!
    Strange.

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