There are inherent problems with projecting an image onto any screen, most of which result in geometry distortion. It’s why curved projection screens were invented (and has nothing to do with the reason why curved OLED TVs exist). But creating a consistent image on a significantly curved surface comes with its own unique challenges — challenges that Disney Research has addressed with its latest innovation: a curved surface that is not only distortion free, but interactive, as well.
First, the pixels are 3D printed, laid out in a Fibonacci spiral sequence, just like a sunflower, a seashell, and a million other bits and pieces of the world around us. After extrusion into a curved, mushroom shape, light pipes are connected to the pixels from a projector. The result? Well, right now it’s the ability to create lifelike eyes in characters straight out of Monsters University. The future? Perhaps more natural, not to mention pretty, home control interfaces. Instead of flat touchscreens, you could have a multitouch curved surface that displays different images for different tasks. Swipe it left like a trackball and you could have a natural light dimming interface. Swipe it right and it could control your home theater or distributed audio system’s volume.
There’s a lot of promise for the future of unobtrusive home control and automation. How likely are we to see something like this actually appear in the home anytime soon? Who knows. Disney built its own planned community, so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility to imagine the company designing entire homes using Imagineering technology? Sure the house will shut down every time a DreamWorks movie comes on TV, but that might be a small price to pay to have these kinds of innovations at your fingertips.