Shall we put the TV in Displace, or Displace?
As TVs continue to increase in size, mounting or positioning them becomes more and more challenging with holes drilled in walls and wires to contend with. But what if you could just stick the TV to the wall and be done with it? Anna Hayes finds out more about new, wireless TV, Displace.
A few months ago, my boyfriend and I decided to rearrange our living room, which essentially meant putting everything on the right side of the room on the left side and vice-versa.
It was semi-painstaking; the most annoying part was making sure we had sockets and connections to service the TV and ancillary devices. Thankfully, it didn’t involve running extension cables around the room like spider webs.
A few months after our feng-shui performance on our apartment, the team behind Displace TV showcased its snazzy new TV at CES 2023. Dubbed as the world’s first wireless TV, Displace has no ports or wires and can be attached to any surface with no wall mounting required. Man, would that have made things easier for us!
Displace TV was founded by Balaji Krishnan, a serial entrepreneur who previously created Dabkick and Snapstick, two startups in the TV space.
Balaji says that he “founded Displace with a vision of a world where people have multiple smart displays on the wall in their homes which deliver value beyond just playing videos.”
Dabkick and Snapstick, he explains, were streaming devices aimed at giving consumers the best TV viewing experience. But, at a certain point, Balaji realised that it didn’t matter how great the experience was through the streamer, the TV was the biggest potential bottleneck for that experience.
“If the TV is not good, you will not be able to deliver a superior user experience.”
Balaji wanted a number of TVs dotted around his house but the biggest challenges were the ones that I mentioned in my apartment reshuffle – wires and power supply, as well as best mounting locations for the TVs. Combining these challenges and the lessons learned from his previous companies, Balaji hit upon the idea for Displace TV with the idea of removing the top friction points, thereby creating the wireless TV.
The Displace 55” 4K TV requires no mounting and weighs less than 20lbs. It runs on a proprietary hot-swappable battery system and is easily transportable. All TVs connect wirelessly to a base unit that is plugged into an electrical outlet and can be kept out of sight within a home.
But hold up, did you say a battery-operated TV? How does that work?
Balaji explains that when they decided to create a wireless TV they didn’t want people to have to charge TVs every night like you would with an iPad.
“We created our proprietary hot-swappable battery assembly. This means the TV will come with an internal battery that will last for several days, but when you attach the hot-swappable external batteries to the TV, it can extend the battery life to more than a month (based on an average of six hours of TV time every – which is a lot).”
So, even when you remove the external batteries to recharge, the TV will continue to work.
Balaji says that future focus will be on exploring alternative power sources, to replace the Lithium-Ion batteries that the TV currently runs on.
“We are actively working on reducing the carbon footprint and exploring alternative power sources like hydrogen fuel cells and solar cells.”
The other ‘hang on, what?’ fact about Displace TV is the fact that it can be mounted, taken down and moved without ever pulling out a screwdriver. Displace invented a new type of attachment mechanism called ‘active-loop vacuum technology’ which secures the TV easily but also allows it to be taken down just as easily.
“You can simply hold the TV against the wall and our sensors will automatically activate suction pumps to create a vacuum between the TV and the wall. We also have built smart algorithms that measure the vacuum pressure and will maintain the suction that’s required to hold the TV on the wall.”
A second method of attaching the TV to the wall will involve an adhesive-based solution and, to be doubly sure, Displace is also working an additional safety mechanism to protect the TVs with a built-in airbag as a failsafe.
For Balaji, the user experience of the Displace TV is key, and he believes that is people’s fundamental motivation for buying new technology.
“A new product can deliver the same functionality and it may look beautiful, but if the user experience is sub-par or even on-par with other products from big brands, then the new product may not sell well,” he says, stressing that Displace was designed with the user experience firmly in mind.
Balaji believes that sometimes, users may even be willing to compromise on some functionalities if they see the best user experience.
“Think about iPods that delivered an inferior audio quality compared to CDs but a user experience that was absolutely superior to any other music player.”
Displace TV solves a lot of friction points that users have with other TVs, he points out.
One of the more unusual bugbears that Balaji has identified here is the remote control, which he doesn’t believe is the right device to control TVs now.
“It used to work decades ago when functionality and content of TVs was limited but today we have countless types of content. Displace TVs are designed to deliver more value than just playing videos.”
To that end, the team invented a multi-modal user interaction using a combination of voice, touch and hand gestures. For people who don’t want any of those, they are also working on a unique device called Finger Caps. Between the four of these options, Displace believes it will provide the best user experience for TVs and eliminate the remote control for good.
Balaji believes that there are limitless potential applications for the Displace TV, pointing out that in the future, they will be opening up both the base unit and the TV’s hardware/software combination to developers to make use of the Displace ecosystem.
“Developers can now create unique applications to tap into the multi-TV ecosystem. For example, the Zoom application can be updated to show the screen sharing window on a separate TV if that TV is nearby (or attached). Unique applications can be built for features like ‘seamless switching’ where the user walks from one TV to another, and the content follows the user. Other new applications – such as games – can be built based on hand gestures,” Balaji explains.
And the creativity continues: interactive videos can be created so users can grab and throw part of the content from one TV to another, or users can split the video and move one part to a different TV. One example is cooking videos where the recipes can be moved to one TV and the cooking instruction video are displayed on a second screen. But the video will be produced as one video by the content creator.
Balaji says that digital health could also have a lot of valuable applications as other devices can interface with the Displace TV.
“Displace TV is packed with sensors that can be used to monitor health digitally. Since the TV is mounted on the wall, it’ll be easy for the user to simply stand in front of the TV. The camera, for example, can potentially read a lot of data from your face. If you bring your eyes closer, the camera can even analyse your eyes. Other sensors can also be used in tandem (like touch sensors or temperature sensors) to create valuable health data.”
He adds: “Other digital devices can also be connected to the TV wirelessly and used to interface with other sensors and software to read/measure health data. The convenience of just walking in front of a large display will bring the best user experience to get health checks done easily at home.”
It seems that the humble TV is humble no more.