Combining the ideas of wi-fi, nanotechnology, microtechnology, and optics could produce a video screen that can be painted on a surface in layers that will then self-assemble into operating, light-producing video screens. Perhaps each pixel could be a tiny nanobot incorporating one or more colors of LED that it can turn on and off. Energy can be derived from a gel or circulating liquid bath (with the added advantage of cooling the nanobots). The controls to make each nanobot turn its light sources on and off can be implemented through data-encoded near infrared light so as to be invisible. Such a light might provide an energy source to the pixelbots as well. Could a modulated light source transmit enough data to address each nanobot individually and pass control information quickly enough for the whole screen assembly to produce real-time video?
Lets review some simple math. Data throughput needed equals the number of pixelbots (number of cells in array = horizontal pixels X vertical rows) X number of colors (4) X refresh rate (30 Hz minimum). 1080 vertical lines X 1920 horizontal pixels X 4 colors (3 + brightness) X refresh rate (30 Hz) = 248,832,000 bytes of data per second. I believe there are technologies available today that support such data rates and, if not, they will exist soon.
Addressing overhead depends on the size of the address. If it’s just the pixel addresses, that’s 2,073,600 addresses, which would require almost 24 bits (3 bytes equivalent) to effectively address. That adds 2,073,600 X 3 bytes of data per second, taking the total data rate required to 255052800 bytes/sec. I believe there are technologies available today that support such data rates and, if not, they will exist soon.
256 Mb/sec is a lot of data to move in a second, but there are ways to compress or otherwise encode the data to reduce the amount. Splitting up the task by using separate light data transmitters to address specific sections of the screen reduces the data to be transmitted. If the screen is divided into 16 segments, for example, the data rate drops to 15,940,800 bytes per second. Alternatively, multiple frequencies of light can be used for data transmission and control.
Pixelbots could potentiallly receive their instructions from any direction or angle, since it would be sent at non-visible wavelengths, while they beam light out the front of the panel. If the addressing scheme and communication system are up to it, the data and control source might be elsewhere in the room, just in sight of the screen.
The result of these concepts might be the purchase of a big screen TV in the form of one or more buckets of paint and a small control box to hold any connectors needed for equipment that doesn’t have optical network capability.
New technologies are coming, and will be driven by our dreams, desires, and needs. As always, I welcome your comments.