Digital displays: Embracing the Era of Immersive Experiences with Unrivaled Impact


In an era often referred to as the information age, I prefer to characterize it as the screen age. Over the past seven decades, displays have become ubiquitous, infiltrating nearly every facet of our daily existence. The advent of televisions brought about a revolution in news and entertainment consumption, followed swiftly by the proliferation of smartphones, fundamentally altering communication and our interaction with the world around us.


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This technological advancement has undeniably transformed society, yet the impact of digital displays extends far beyond these monumental shifts. From facilitating easier navigation of public transportation to expediting orders at fast-food establishments, screens have seamlessly integrated into various aspects of our lives, simplifying tasks and enhancing convenience.


As our society grows increasingly complex, the prevalence of screens shows no signs of abating. However, one must wonder: will this trend persist? As technology continues to evolve, how will digital displays evolve alongside it, and what transformations lie ahead?


To gain insights into the future of screens, I reached out to Alexander Mogg, a lead partner monitor at Deloitte. He highlights three key areas where significant changes are expected: size, shape, and form. Firstly, there is a shift towards greater variation in screen sizes, ranging from minuscule to monumental, to cater to diverse needs and preferences. Secondly, there is a departure from the traditional rectangular shape, freeing screens from the constraints of quadrilaterals and opening up possibilities for innovative applications in various environments.


Leading with OLED

The ultimate evolution in screen technology will involve a transformation in form, characterized by the introduction of curved displays, three-dimensional designs, and the emergence of foldable models. Mogg envisions screens evolving to cater to a myriad of use cases and environments, further solidifying their ubiquity in our daily lives.


To explore how this vision may manifest, I connected with Marcin Ratajczak from Inuru, a German company poised to revolutionize screen technology. Inuru’s groundbreaking innovation lies in its novel approach to manufacturing OLED displays. Recently securing €9.5 million in funding, the company has established a state-of-the-art factory near Berlin dedicated to producing low-cost OLED displays.


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OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology represents a pinnacle of display engineering. Renowned for its paper-thin profile, flexibility, vibrant brightness, and high contrast ratio, OLED is employed in a wide array of premium electronic devices, from cutting-edge gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch to top-of-the-line televisions. As someone who has recently invested in an OLED TV, I can attest to its remarkable quality


However, as Ratajczak highlights, the manufacturing process for OLED displays poses significant challenges, contributing to their limited use in premium devices. Inuru’s breakthrough lies in its patented method for manufacturing OLED technology, promising to overcome these obstacles and make OLED displays more accessible than ever before.


Printing screens

In simple terms, the most challenging part of making OLED displays is applying the organic layers that produce light onto the substrate, which holds these layers. This is usually done through methods like vacuum thermal evaporation or organic vapor phase deposition, where organic molecules are evaporated and then cooled onto the substrate.


What sets Inuru apart is their innovative approach to OLED manufacturing. Instead of using the conventional semiconductor evaporation process, they have adopted a simpler method akin to color printing. Essentially, Inuru sprays OLEDs directly onto the substrate, similar to how ink is sprayed onto paper in inkjet printers.


According to the company, this approach allows them to manufacture OLEDs using only 1% of the energy and materials needed for the standard process, leading to a 90% reduction in manufacturing costs. By breaking free from previous cost constraints, this opens up new possibilities for high-quality displays in various shapes and sizes.


A new way of looking at screens

One area of keen interest for Ratajczak and Inuru is the potential impact of screens on marketing and labeling. For instance, envision using this technology on medicine bottles. Currently, this involves labels illuminating when the drugs expire. However, this could expand to include displaying changes in dosage rates or indicating if the allotted amount has been consumed that day.


Ratajczak envisions even broader applications for screen technology. While presently limited to illuminating specific areas, its rapid evolution could lead to more significant impacts. For instance, he discusses using displays on clothing as a fashion statement or incorporating animated displays on products.

Another use case involves the concept of “reusable packaging that we share.” Imagine purchasing a bag of pasta with a flexible screen displaying the company’s branding. When the product is consumed, instead of discarding the bag, it’s cleaned, and another company’s product is inserted. The screens surrounding the bag change to showcase this new product and its branding.


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While this concept is intriguing, there are doubts about its practicality. Would it not be simpler to establish a circular packaging system using easily recyclable materials rather than integrating inexpensive screens into everything?


Regardless of the cost-benefit analysis, this concept highlights one potential future of screens: becoming so affordable and widespread that they can almost replace traditional paper labels. However, there are potential challenges and roadblocks that may impede the widespread adoption of this technology in the near future.


The death of displays

While it’s understandable that a company focused on screen technology would anticipate a future where screens are omnipresent, it’s essential to consider alternative trajectories for our interaction with digital displays. Augmented reality (AR) emerges as a compelling contender in the evolution of screen technology.


Unlike traditional screens, AR offers a more immersive and interactive experience by overlaying digital content onto the real world. This opens up a myriad of possibilities for businesses and consumers alike. For instance, imagine using your smartphone camera to scan a product package and instantly accessing additional information, interactive features, or even virtual demonstrations of how the product works. This seamless integration of digital content into our physical environment not only enhances the consumer experience but also provides businesses with new avenues for marketing, branding, and customer engagement.




Moreover, AR technology has the potential to transcend the limitations of physical screens. While traditional screens require physical space and resources to deploy, AR experiences can be accessed using devices that consumers already own, such as smartphones or AR glasses. This accessibility and flexibility make AR a compelling alternative to traditional screen-based solutions, particularly in scenarios where space or budget constraints may limit the feasibility of deploying physical screens.


In essence, while screens may continue to play a significant role in our digital landscape, the emergence of AR technology offers a glimpse into a future where our interaction with digital content transcends the confines of traditional screens, ushering in a new era of immersive and interactive experiences.


Smart glasses taking over?

While augmented reality (AR) in its current form may seem cumbersome compared to traditional screens, the advent of smart glasses like Apple’s Vision Pro and Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses heralds the dawn of the ambient computing revolution. With smart glasses, we may soon see a shift away from physical screens towards a more seamless and immersive digital experience.


Imagine browsing products in a store, and relevant animations or additional information automatically appearing on your smart glasses. This offers a less resource-intensive solution for companies to engage with consumers, transcending physical limitations and reaching them wherever they are. It’s a win-win situation for both businesses and consumers.


But does this spell the end for traditional digital displays? Are we merely biding our time until smart glasses become affordable and sophisticated enough to replace screens entirely? Ratajczak suggests that screens will blend with augmentation, providing users with seamless access to digital information in the physical world. Consider a medicine bottle: even in a screenless environment, being able to see an expiry date flagged on it remains valuable.


On the other hand, Mogg holds a different perspective. He believes that AR/VR technology will eventually render screens obsolete. The potential applications of AR/VR are too compelling to ignore. While this transition may not happen overnight, Mogg envisions a future where smart glasses reach a level of sophistication that ushers in the decline of the screen age.


The end of the world as we know it

Despite the imminent proliferation of screens in our surroundings, it prompts us to ponder: is this abundance of screens a positive development? When discussing this with Mogg, he acknowledged potential concerns such as distraction and security risks due to increased attack vectors. However, he believes that the productivity gains from using screens will outweigh many of these drawbacks.


Conversely, Ratajczak maintains an optimistic outlook on the benefits that screens can bring. However, personally, it’s challenging to envision a future where we are inundated with screens without some apprehension. Society already grapples with heightened anxiety and depression, much of which is attributed to excessive screen time and social media usage. Will the proliferation of more displays alleviate or exacerbate these issues? It’s a legitimate concern.


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The emergence of AR/VR technology adds another layer to this dilemma. Unlike traditional screens that can be turned off or ignored, AR/VR presents an inescapable digital overlay on our reality. The worry is that this omnipresence of technology may exacerbate existing challenges.


The absence of clear solutions to mitigate these concerns is troubling. The allure of convenience and profitability associated with increased screen usage may overshadow potential societal consequences. Just as ordering stations in fast food restaurants appeared without prior consultation, the next phase of the display revolution may unfold similarly.


Regulation may offer some semblance of control, or perhaps society will adapt to the changes, much like it did with the advent of the internet. However, one thing remains certain: while we currently reside in the screen age, it is not an era that will endure indefinitely.


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