October 16, 2005

The future!

It's a fairly common environmental element of films set in The Future, especially since the rise of CGI made the effect easier and cheaper to make: moving images on newspapers, magazines, and billboards. Siemens made an announcement this weekend:

Cheap, paper-thin TV screens that can be used in newspapers and magazines have been unveiled by German electronics giant Siemens.

The firm says the low production costs could see the magazine shelves in newsagents come alive with moving images vying for the customers' attention as they move along the aisle.

They expect to start producing it commercially in about two years.

I'm actually not sure how widespread this will become. Certainly we'll see it in specialized magazines; but the newspaper and newsmagazine publishing industries have been struggling for a while, and I don't think people are going to read a physical newspaper instead of an internet newspaper just because the former has moving pictures -- especially when the internet version can have those same clips!

More likely, these will be used to make screens for a wide variety of new portable electronics. Smaller, lighter camera- and videophones, or higher-quality portable video players (like the latest version of the iPod, or portable DVD players), or even smaller and more compact laptops.

One especially neat idea are the genuinely appealing e-book readers that could be manufactured with these. For example, perhaps you'll be able to buy one that's the size and shape of an ordinary sheet of newspaper; subscribe to the New York Times (or whatever), and every morning you can download and read an electronic copy with the same 'feel' as a print copy. A book-size reader the size, shape, and weight of a thin hardback could do to publishing what the iPod is doing to music.

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