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Gigantic liquid crystal display is like a giant calculator

Some say he turns on his soldering iron by saying, “Flame on!.” He deadbug solders – QFP packages. All we know is he’s called [stig] and he sent in an awesome an awesome video of a new display at the Nature Research Center in Raleigh, North Carolina. It’s a 10 foot by 90 foot LCD display that uses 6 inch square glass panels containing the same liquid crystals you’d find in a calculator.

The display/installation is called Patterned by Nature and is built using 3600 pieces of LCD privacy glass. When a voltage is applied to the glass it changes from clear to opaque. While this technology has been around for decades (just look at your calculator), only in the last few years has LCD privacy glass come down in price to make a project like this economical.

The gigantic display was created in part by Sosolimited, an art studio who has made a similar project before. The display hanging in the atrium of the Raleigh Nature Research Center is amazingly efficient for its size  drawing only 75 watts.

If you’d like to try your hand at a similar build, we wish you luck; this LCD glass is still somewhat expensive but perhaps in a few years the price will come down enough that we can play Tetris on the side of a building.

Comments

  1. Wholly Mindless says:

    Go Stig!

  2. st2000 says:

    I want one!

    Seriously, this is the coolest art I have see in a long time.

    BTW, Disney’s SpaceTours (aka what ever it is called now) had been using clear->translucent->clear LCDs large panels (several feet wide and many feet high) over a decade ago. Actually, thats probably several decades ago now (remember Disney’s “Captin “Eio” (spelling?) (aka Michel Jackson))??.

  3. paul says:

    a beautiful work of art; well executed.

  4. draeath says:

    an awesome an awesome video? Is that like awesome^2? :P

  5. M4CGYV3R says:

    Actually, that’s stig’s computer illiterate cousin which explains why the video is on Vimeo instead of a good, working vid hosting service…

  6. my2c says:

    - Anyone know any cheap suppliers of privacy glass/film that deal in small quantities?

    • Erik J says:

      PDLC film/Liquid Crystal film is on sale at Alibaba for ~$300 per m². That can never be cheap over here. Minimum order is between $10k and $40k. I’ve not found anyone selling smaller batches.

      Linear polarizer film can be had for about $100 per m² minimum order at about $50.

      But these are only first hits on Google so you can probably find better.

  7. Ren says:

    Now for a Tetris version.

  8. cplamb says:

    What a wonderful piece of art! However, the hacker in me is left wondering about details of construction and source of materials.

  9. Givemelove says:

    I’d be particularly interested to see where they got some (affordable) LCD film.

  10. Whatnot says:

    I like the concept, but I would not describe myself awed by this.

    Mind you I did turn off the sound after a minute or so since it was both annoying as well as trying too hard to be artsy.

  11. Haku says:

    Niiice.

    Some interactivity would be the cherry on top, like a kinect or audio input that detects footsteps, and games wise who wouldn’t want to play tetris or some sort of rudimentary space invaders/driving game on it.

  12. Jw says:

    I wish i could play tetris on that thing! :D

  13. The DON says:

    I had a similar thought 20 years ago, after disassembling a calculator. there are polarising screens between the LCD and your eyes….

    My thought was to make a large round window with two of these screens on it (one of which can be rotated). the ‘window’ will be see-through until one of the films is rotated through 90 degrees, at which point it is blacked out.

    No electricity needed, nor curtains :-)

    • Haku says:

      That’s a pretty neat idea, you could do it on a smaller scale using the polarization panels from a cracked LCD monitor (laptop/monitor/tv), the biggest one you can get your hands on the better.

    • Philippe says:

      If you have a chance to go to an airport, ask to visit the inside of a Beech King Air (small twin turbo-prop). They have the kind of round windows you imagined.
      Two layers of polarized plexiglas, a tiny handle that allows you to rotate the inside panel, and voilà!

  14. Galane says:

    The original Star Tours waiting line had some walld made of these panels.

  15. Mime says:

    I want to see the game of life running on this thing..

  16. hrpuffnstuff says:

    I so want to take the screen on my 1979 era Microvision http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microvision and make it with these. Mine actually still works (no screen Rot)

  17. Anon says:

    Reminds me of the eCloud installation at the San Jose, CA Airport.

    http://directedplay.com/ecloud.html

  18. andrewia says:

    Nice Top Gear reference!

  19. schobi says:

    Single pixel LCDs can also be found in active shutter glasses. But again, I don’t have a cheap source for these …

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