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.

25 thoughts on “Gigantic Liquid Crystal Display Is Like A Giant Calculator

  1. 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))??.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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 :-)

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

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