Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting



A Family's Evening Out -- In the Year 2024...

Jeff was happy to be turning into his driveway after another typically busy day working for a large electronics module company. Commute traffic had been heavy, as usual, and the last few years at work had been especially difficult with the demands being made by management to improve the capabilities of the latest micro-modules. The growing acceptance of these miniature plug-in modules, popularly known as "knowledge cubes," had really made his electronic packaging skills vital. It wasn’t much of a surprise that these hardware modules had, over the last few years, become the robust replacements for what had previously been done with downloaded software that had become ever more susceptible to viruses and hackers.

While he liked the idea of being a packaging engineer highly in demand, he didn't like the high-pressure environment, and he didn't like having to continually meet such tight schedules for new product introductions. Sure, it was great for consumers to be able to acquire the latest voice-recognition, image-manipulation, or text-processing capabilities, configured as plug-in modules in cute little cubes, but introducing several new products each week was becoming quite a challenge for him and for his company. What did everyone think? That these little cubes could be created like popcorn? Sure, they were easy to use and fun to collect, but didn't people realize all the engineering that had to go into the development of each one of them?

Thus, it was quite understandable that Jeff was glad to be home. He was also glad that his wife Diane was there to greet him. Maybe she would give him some sympathy after his tough day. But just as he was about to say, "Would you like to hear the latest my boss came up with today?" his wife beat him to it with her own opening comment, "You wouldn't believe what one of my clients did to me today. I don't even want to talk about it. I've decided that we can just take the kids and go out this evening."

Well, this wasn't exactly what Jeff had in mind, but being a pretty understanding guy, and quick at assessing such family situations, he responded with, "Hey, that's just what I was thinking on my way home. How about going for a quick dinner and a movie?" "OK, I'll get the kids and we'll join you in the car in a few minutes," responded Diane.

Actually, Jeff didn't mind this abrupt change in plans all that much. Whether at home or in the car, this would give the family some time together. And in any case, cars over the last few years had evolved to be quite suitable for these kinds of family gatherings. Jeff could still remember the time, around the turn of the century, when the new and dramatically redesigned VW Beetle had made such a hit and when behemoth-sized Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) became ever more popular. And even though the car companies had never been known as brilliant innovators, there had been a gradual evolution to vehicles that were comfortable and functional, with lots of entertainment options.

Remembering back to that time, when he was just entering college, brought a smile to Jeff's face. He had bought a well-worn VW Beetle to drive while getting his EE degree and here he was driving a vehicle some twenty years later that had all the appearances of having been cross-bred between that VW Beetle and the SUVs of that era.

The family's first stop that evening was at a popular drive-in restaurant offering the typical menu of custom-made burgers and sandwiches, a variety of drinks including all the shakes, floats, and sodas known to mankind, and a variety of other menu choices for those with more sophisticated or substantial appetites. Their server took their order, entering it via a portable remote terminal, and in a few minutes returned with the tray holding their meals. The tray was placed onto their partly lowered driver-side window -- just as drive-in restaurants have done for the last 75 or 80 years. Jeff and Diane always found it interesting how these park-while-you-eat drive-in restaurants had made such a comeback over the past 20 years while drive-through fast-food chains so popular at the turn-of-the-century were no longer as ubiquitous. When they were younger, they had watched movies about how teenagers used to use drive-in restaurants as gathering places in the 1950s and 60s, but they hadn't really anticipated that they, as adults, would enjoy these drive-ins as much as they now did. Maybe it had something to do with the children being at an age where more traditional restaurants weren't that well suited for them. However, looking at the other cars, people of all ages and all group-sizes seemed to be similarly enjoying their evening out. Perhaps it was because cars were now so comfortable and capable of providing all the entertainment and wireless communications capability that kept both adults and kids fully occupied.

After finishing their meal, it was time to take in the main event, a movie carefully selected by Diane to appeal both to them and to their two teenage children -- they hoped. As they pulled into the drive-in theater, they were asked if they needed an audio-receive module or if they would like to use their car's audio system. Almost everyone opted for using their own audio systems with only a few of the older cars -- those without high-capacity storage cells -- plugging into the variable-voltage power sources provided at every parking spot.

Even though Diane was pretty sure that the kids would enjoy the movie and stay in the vehicle with their parents, she had come prepared with a back-up strategy. If the movie became too boring for them, the kids could go to the nearby game arcade and play the newest virtual reality games while Mom and Dad watched the movie. Of course, she and Jeff also enjoyed many of these games, but tonight, they would most likely stick with the movie.

The sun had just set and dusk was deepening. Although there were still the vestiges of daylight and wispy red bands of clouds glowing near the horizon, the movie started right on schedule. The images flashing from the huge screen before them had a brilliance and resolution so compelling they couldn't help but be drawn to them. Even Jeff, the engineer, was impressed. This was the latest in large-screen display technology and it really was spectacular. The screen was large, it was bright, and it's HDTV-like resolution provided about the same picture quality as the IMAX theaters of 25 years before. Of course, even conventional theaters no longer used film. The conversion to electronic distribution had had a difficult beginning and had taken some time to catch on but film had finally been replaced soon after 2010.

Quite unexpectedly, Jeff thought of something that put such a big grin on his face that Diane immediately asked, "OK, what's so funny?" "Well, I just remembered reading an article about the early attempts in the mid-90s to develop field-emission displays for computer and television applications, and how they all failed. I just can't help wondering what some of their investors are thinking today, now that they can see where field-emission technology finally achieved its success. Isn't it great to be able to watch a movie on such a large display screen at night and to know that all day tomorrow this theater will be making money showing ads to shoppers going in and out of the shopping mall next door? What a neat business! And all of this because of a display technology that is bright enough for both night and day use and that can be electronically oriented to serve two sets of customers. This big-screen display makes money twenty-four hours a day!" Jeff was getting excited. Diane just nodded her agreement. This discussion was starting to sound too much like work.

The movie turned out to be even better than they had expected. Being in their own vehicle, they didn't disturb anyone else with their occasional conversations, and the surround-sound system in their car was just as impressive as the ones in theaters. All in all, Jeff had to admit that it was turning out to be a very nice evening. Staying at home has its advantages, but spending an evening with the family, while being entertained and fed in such a convenient manner, had its own satisfactions as well. The next day, driving to work, Jeff was especially aware of all the sunlight-readable displays vying for his attention. He could see that display technology had certainly made the world a brighter and more colorful place.

Should you have entertaining ideas of your own that you would like to share with me, I can be reached directly from this site or by telephone at 425-898-9117.