Steve Venuti, VP Marketing, Keyssa
For the longest time, hardware was exactly as the name suggests: hard, rigid, inflexible. Purchasing an HDTV or a cell phone meant first choosing a screen size…features were the next level of decision making. Why? Because the physical form factor, whether on your wall or in your pocket or purse, was not going to change. It was immutable. But all that is changing.
2 Cases in Point: Displays and Phones
Case #1: Displays
LCD flat panels have dominated the home and the small conference room. Inexpensive, readily available, easy to set-up – LCD panels have become ubiquitous. But direct-view LED technology is poised to supplant the LCD in many environments. And one reason is hardware flexibility.
Video walls are the primary use case for LED displays. We have all seen them – huge displays on stadiums, auditoriums, retail malls – designed to be viewed from afar; close up, the pixelization clearly visible. But times are changing – pixel pitches (the distance between individual LEDs) are decreasing enabling HD and even 4K resolutions possible with direct-view LED panels.
So what does that mean to the average consumer? It means the lego-like modularity of LED video walls, assembling LED panels into any size…any configuration…will eventually make its way into the conference room and into the home. It means HD displays will become more than just entertainment devices; they will become platforms for hanging artwork and building blocks for innovations in interior design. And it means your large screen TV will come in pieces in a box that easily fits into your car.
Samsung’s The Wall
Samsung was the first consumer brand to demonstrate the potential promise of configurable displays. With 4K resolution, and the ability to change the physical layout of the panels, Samsung showed the world the future of displays.
Case #2: Smart phones
Like HDTVs, the first decision most smart phone buyers face is the size of the display. Too small, and basic functionality is impaired…too big and the device becomes cumbersome to carry and use. While the promise of a foldable display remains on the horizon, LG announced a much more practical and affordable design that allows users to change the usable display real estate. The recently launched LGV50 ThinQ Dual Screen 5G phone is, in its form factor, little different from other phones. Designed to be used in a case with a second passive LCD panel, the phone can change from a single display phone, to a multiple display phone.
Configurable Hardware Opens Up New Use Cases
Flexible display configurations are not just new ways to do the same old thing. Configurable LED panels enable displays to become more than a source for viewing entertainment. They can become artwork…stunning visual elements of interior design…Walls. Adding a second screen to your phone enables entirely new uses applications. Streaming video while writing emails, taking notes, or texting. Full screen gaming with one panel functioning as the game controller. Swiping the map on one screen into the message on the other screen. With new form factors come new ways to interact with hardware.
Connectivity is a Key Enabler of Modular Hardware
Configuring hardware into different form factors can only be enabled if all these hardware pieces can seamlessly connect. And mechanical connectors and cables are not up to the task. Keyssa saw this trend years ago when we created our high-speed, contactless connectors – engineered for the next generation of product design…freeing product designers to think of new ways to develop hardware products…allowing a modular approach to eletronic devices.
This is why LG chose Keyssa to connect the second screen to the phone (https://www.keyssa.com/lg-v50-thinq-release/). And this is why leaders in the video wall industry have partnered with Keyssa to eliminate the massive cabling that is hidden behind every video wall…a major pain point for any video wall integrator (https://www.keyssa.com/novastar-keyssa/).
None of this Should be News
Modular computing is nothing new, of course. One of the most common forms of everyday modular computing is the omnipresent dock. PCs and tablets have been docking for years. And when docked, the combined computing system has even greater functionality, usually in the form of expanded I/O.
And when computing devices come together, there’s always a need for Keyssa. Keyssa’s connectivity is being designed into docking products where every day environmental hazardous can kill mechanical connectors – everything from kitchen grease in a fried chicken restaurant to the grimy hands of an elementary school child in the classroom.
Over 4 years ago, when Keyssa was launched, we said this:
“We expect to spark an immediate wave of industrial design innovation that was previously blocked by today’s connectors”
We can argue about the definition of immediate, but the trend is clear. Hardware is no longer hard.