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.


17 thoughts on “Using An LCD’s Poor Viewing Angle To Your Advantage

  1. @ 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 .

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

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