4K TVs: Are Windows in Homes About to Become Obsolete?

By Rob Enderle January 21, 2014

Are windows in homes about to become obsolete? That’s what crossed my mind when I saw the below video out of South America.  What the video showcases is how real 4K TVs are and how easily and increasingly affordably we could replace the windows in our homes with TV screens  - making them much more secure, and much sturdier and allowing everyone to have a view regardless of where they live.   

AMD Surround House

AMD has been showcasing aspects of this for some time.  Last year they had their first surround house which was a room with TVs as windows and they would showcase a kidnapping both with and without a massive sound system turned on.   Without, it looked like police were rescuing a couple of kidnapped executives and with sound on, it became clear that the police were actually the bad guys.   Accidently, it showcased why eye witnesses weren’t actually that reliable because the good guys and bad guys were so easily confused.  

This year, they did more of a dome with projectors covering the roof and had the audience sitting down amidst an orchestra of monsters playing instruments.  The human conductor in the middle using a Kinect sensor would then direct and interact with the orchestra which behaved interactively and made it feel almost like you were in a real event.  

In both cases the showcase was that our view of reality could be altered with a combination of code, graphics and processor horsepower, and enough resolution to approach real.

LG’s Video

If you watched the video below, which was an LG promotion made popular via social media, you saw that the people in the office were totally fooled by what was going on in the window.  They placed a 4K 84 inch TV in place of where a window behind an executive showcasing the skyline would have been.    They had speakers and some impressive subwoofers placed around the room and then showcased a meteor destroying the city and as the blast weave reached the Window the executive left and the light went out as if the power had been cut. It showcases you could actually replace windows with displays and coupled with creative speaker placement do some funny and fascinating things.   

TVs Instead of Windows

With this technology, you can place whoever is in the room at any location in the world.   Always dream of an ocean view in Hawaii with the sound of the surf in the background?  You can have that without the problems of commuting to Hawaii or dealing with salt corroding all of your stuff.  Wish you had a mountain top home where you could look down on the clouds and pollution?   You can have that too.   But how about a home under the ocean like a James Bond villain (Dr. No), or one on the moon or mars?   You could have all of that.  You could even have a child’s room where the view was of unicorn herds, baby dragons, or rampaging pixies.  The only downside of that is that all the kids would be coming over to your house.     But your imagination would be your only limitation.  

TV’s over Windows Advantages

While these TVs would pull a substantial amount of power, you could limit that with occupancy sensor switches and a practice of turning them off like you would pull drapes.  But the advantages are many.  If you think about how security burglars often come in through windows and the look into windows to see if anyone is home before breaking in.  Having no windows means they hit someone else’s home.  In earthquakes, windows reduce the structural power of shear walls making the house more likely to collapse and in tornadoes and hurricanes they break allowing the house to overpressure and explode from the inside (which is why homes that are destroyed after a huge wind look like they were blown up).  No windows and the house is more likely to survive.   Windows leak out heat and are relatively poor insulators against heat causing your heating and cooling system to work harder as well.    Granted in a fire it is kind of handy to have one to crawl out of but an actual fire exit would likely be far safer and a door can be made to be both more secure than a windows and easier/faster to get out of than one. 

You can even do a better job filtering your air and have the advantages of a cleaner air as if you lived in the mountains or by the ocean.  

Wrapping Up:  The End of Windows

There are some huge advantages to replacing Windows with displays but the best ones are the ability to place yourself anywhere you’d like to be regardless of where your home is.   The biggest cost advantage could be for apartments, which now can be placed in the middle of buildings rather than on the outside edges because it won’t matter where it is, it will always have a view.    4K and better TVs - which will drop in cost over time and the emergence of programming you  will be able to put on these virtual windows.   I think we are at the early stages and I don’t expect many folks to do this for a few years yet, but in 10 years, I expect folks will be choosing whether they want a real or virtual view and more and more will be taking the virtual choice.  This is because even though the displays will be more expensive than windows they will be far cheaper than the difference in cost between a home with a view and one without.  

See you in the virtual future!

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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