YouTube creators have become media outlets and professionals on their own right. At recent domestic and international media events, it is easy to encounter famous YouTube producers, who are almost like celebrities.
Last November, we met Linus Sebastian, who runs the YouTube channel “Linus Tech Tips.” He is famous among IT YouTube creators for producing content about computers and IT culture. While his content is still mostly about computers, he is increasingly expanding his focus to smartphones, TVs, the rapidly moving Hyperloop, as well as quantum computers, which are considered as next-generation computing technology. In other words, he is broadening his reach to a more general tech area. Sebastian is probably one of the most keenly aware content creators for new technologies. As someone who loves technology, he is also a YouTube creator that I’ve always wanted to meet in person.
“I’m not really into product presentations or press conferences. I have to see the same demonstrations repeatedly, mostly with marketing and promotional messages. It’s easier for me to touch and experience directly to get the content I want. It’s really exciting to meet the publicists, but I prefer talking with engineers who work on technology.”
Linus came to Korea to visit the new display lab. I can see why he considers technology to be at the core of the criteria for selecting material to upload on YouTube. It is more about the accessibility to technology than how the products are packaged. This sparked his recent interest in visiting the labs or factories in person. This time, he took a 12-hour flight from Canada to see the technologies related to new displays, including LG Display’s transparent OLED.
The discussion naturally led to displays, including OLED. On his YouTube channel, you can often find a lot of videos that use the display in a variety of exciting ways. While we discussed transparent OLED, we were reminded of how Linus once installed a huge Wallpaper OLED TV in his studio like a window. In fact, the technology for transparent OLED has been talked about for quite a long time. LG Display’s decision to unveil it to Linus Tech Tips signifies that it is now at the commercialization stage of producing transparent OLED technology.
“When I upload a story on my YouTube channel to share it with my subscribers, it means that the technology is almost at the level of commercialization. It is also the most important part of deciding what I upload. I met the designer who actually created the transparent OLED display in person, and I was able to ask about the mechanism of transparent OLED display and how the circuit is constructed. It made the trip to Korea such a worthwhile experience. ”
Transparent OLED is one of the displays that take advantage of the semiconductor characteristics of OLED. When it’s off, it’s transparent like glass, but when you turn it on, you see the screen like you would expect. Since each pixel directly emits color and light without a backlight, it becomes a transparent display if you make a small element of a pixel and embed it in the glass. It is certainly not as easy as it sounds. Hiding the circuit in a transparent form and attaching it to the glass is not a simple task.
“When I looked at the game screen with transparent OLED, it felt like I was watching the rain through a window. Depending on the brightness of the screen, you may or may not see what is behind the screen. I was able to immediately observe the technical characteristics of the OLED. ”
Linus explained that other than the parts that are see-through, everything else about the transparent OLED screen is the same as a regular OLED screen. It retains the strengths of OLED, such as vibrant colors and rapid reaction times, while the part that does not express color can be made transparent. According to Linus, this has great potential as a gaming display.
This made me wonder why we even need a transparent display. In recent years, bendable, foldable and even rollable displays are being developed. Only by adequately answering the question, “Why should displays and smartphones be folded?”, will we be able to determine the value of the product. I was curious whether it’s part of what Linus Tech Tips envisions in the future of displays.
“One of the roles of smart refrigerators these days is to show the inside without opening the door. Using a clear display will allow you to see the inside of the refrigerator while still effectively displaying information on the refrigerator. The difference between looking at the inside of the refrigerator with a camera like some refrigerators and looking inside the refrigerator through a transparent display is clear. Could a transparent OLED perform this role?”
The new form of display requires imagination. An example would be the transparent refrigerator panel that Linus talked about. Although engineers have a lot of things to consider, we’re free to imagine how evolving technology can be applied. We can envisage two gamers playing together as they look at the same transparent display across from one another, seeing where the other player is going. If you turn off the screen, you can use it as an interior element according to the spatial needs because it is as transparent as glass. It requires a lot of technical components, and while it’s definitely excellent, it will be quite expensive for now.
“The price is certainly an important part. As the cost of technology decreases, transparent displays can save space and will allow us to interpret space differently. Don’t you think so? I think it can be put to practical use after 10 years at very reasonable prices. And even if the price is not low right now, there’s no reason not to make the product. If the value of combining OLED with transparency is recognized, a good product can come into the world even if it is expensive.”
There was a story about how to put a transparent display around a beer glass. It sounds fictional right now, but I don’t think it is completely unnecessary to add a display to the beer glass. It can show you how many beers you have had, your bill, or even a simple drinking game. Certainly, you can also advertise on the screen.
“Is it going to be expensive? People are willing to purchase five-thousand-dollar sneakers. Why is it impossible to sell five-thousand-dollar beer glasses? If the price falls, the demand and application may change. Instead of considering it as a new display, if you treat it as a replacement for a glass, a lot of fun new things can be created if anybody can make anything out of it.”
We are still familiar with rectangular displays. What does Linus Tech Tips anticipate in a display or which criteria are applied to select products? He gave priority to the no_expression of brightness and darkness.
“There is a demand for a brighter display, like digital signage. But as I enjoy watching movies at night with lights off, I need a display that is darker and more detailed in color. The OLED display is the best at depicting HDR videos such as Dolby Vision or HDR10 and the detailed level of darkness.”
The capability of HDR, which portrays color and brightness in a wider range, is directly relevant to content as well as display performance. It has to do with effectively expressing the color of the video. Linus says he is recently interested in HDR content that expresses a wider range of colors, as high-quality content is what drives the performance of displays.
HDR is so much more advanced in color, brightness, and contrast that attracts the attention of anyone interested in video production. However, HDR video production is not as simple as it sounds. It is important to note that the process of creating content for consumption is just as important as the development of the device. Once the content ecosystem is in place, the demand for better technology displays, including OLED, will certainly rise.
The story that began with hardware ended with content. The direction for displays will ultimately be, not in terms of resolution or brightness, but about how effectively they present the content. Transparent and bendable displays, as well as bright, multicolored screens, are affected by their appropriate environment and content. As OLED TV increasingly becomes popular, its hardware technology is making its own territory. The preparations are sailing smoothly on the right path. The next task, perhaps, is the idea and imagination of how to use the prepared hardware.