One of the biggest problems with installing a television in your home or office is the cabling. You can hang the TV on the wall and make it a beautiful feature of your room. However, to make it work, you've got to have power cables and video cables running from a variety of devices to the television. While there are fairly simple solutions to this problem, Displace thinks it has an even simpler solution.
Displace claims to be the world's first wireless television. This isn't exactly true, as we saw a totally wireless television at the Wireless Power Consortium booth in 2012. The claim notwithstanding, the concept is certainly interesting. If the technology works, you would be able to install the television in minutes and run absolutely zero cables to it.
The television itself is powered by rechargeable batteries that are inserted into the side of the television. The batteries are charged externally and inserted as needed. The television can hold up to four batteries at a time but will run with only a single one inserted.
Video is provided to the television over a Wi-Fi 6E connection from a central hub box that can be put anywhere within the range of the Wi-Fi connection. We're not sure if this is a Wi-Fi Direct connection or if it runs over an existing network, so the range was not immediately known. All of your devices then plug into the hub - like your cable box, gaming systems, Roku box, and more.
The Displace TV is also supposed to have a unique installation method - a vacuum seal. The claim is that you can simply place the TV against the wall and the suction system will attach it to the wall. In our demo, the television was never able to actually attach, despite the company's best efforts. The booth was specifically designed to allow the company to demo the technology under their ideal conditions, and it still didn't work as expected. However, we understand that others had a positive experience with a demo.
Another concern from the demo is that the televisions didn't appear to actually be using the wireless system. The demo did not include the base station, which is the only thing that actually sets the television apart. As it is, the TV appears to be a standard LG OLED panel with batteries and base station. So, not getting to see the actual base station in action is concerning.
Another concern comes from the control system. Rather than using a remote control, the system will be based on voice and gesture controls. We have seen big companies try this for years without any success - everyone always turns back to the traditional remote. It's possible that the company, without any connection to the previous attempts, could pull it off, but we won't know until the product launches to the public.
When looking at startups and their ideas, one thing we always try to do is look at the pitch and compare it to the product. One of the big pitches is that you can take 4 or 16 of these screens and put them together to create a single giant display. This is a cool concept for businesses and even trade shows. However, there's a design flaw in implementing this concept (beyond having to charge tons of batteries). How do you change the batteries on any of the displays whose slots are covered by another display?
If you're in a 4x4 matrix, you'll have at least 4 displays that are completely inaccessible, and that assumes that the company puts battery slots on all sides, which they will not. The likelihood is that you'll have 12 of the 16 screens whose battery compartments will be covered by another screen. So, do we have to completely dismantle the matrix every time the batteries die? It's a design flaw that indicates a company that might be out over its own skis.
The biggest fear, though? What happens when the batteries die? The company says that with 4 batteries at full power, you can get 7.5 days of continuous use. However, if the batteries drain completely, the mounting system is likely to fail and your television can fall off the wall. In fact, it's possible that the failed demo we experienced could have been low battery-based. Either way, needing to have at least one working battery to prevent a kamikaze television is less than ideal.
The Displace TV is expected to launch later in 2023, but in a very limited production run. A single television will cost $3000, and if you want to try out the 2x2 matrix, you can get 4 screens for $9000. If you are interested in taking a risk on the first generation of the product, you can pre-order yours today at the company's website, but waiting to see what happens might be the best choice.
Interview by Daniele Mendez of The New Product Launchpad.
Daniele is a software engineer at Lockheed Martin after graduating from Florida Polytechnic University. In High School, she was introduced to the science and technology world through the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), a robotics foundation where students of varying ages can compete through tasks that their robots perform. With help from mentors she met through FIRST, she became interested in programming and developing. Today, Daniele is a special events host for F5 Live: Refreshing Technology and PLUGHITZ Live Presents and a co-host for both The New Product Launchpad and FIRST Looks.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.