Monday, April 23, 2007

Weird Science

Here's a bit of fluff to start your week. Justin Mullins, at, says that Phillips (you know, the TV manufacturer) is developing "Furry TV." Haven't you always longed for a pettable television? No? I can't say I have either. In fact, such a thing would never have entered my head, but apparently the folks at Phillips have actually been working on how to make it happen, and believe it should be possible to make a TV screen out of fabric, with hair-like strands acting as pixels. Ultimately this could lead to wearable television screens, and Mullins explains, "The company hopes to build furry displays into outfits." How weird is that?

I can "picture" it now--your favorite sweatshirt won't be the one that commemorates your trip to the Super Bowl, but the one that let's you watch the Superbowl. Of course, if you're watching television on your own shirt, instead of someone else's, the image better be upside down, and set somewhere down around your belly button, if you want to see and understand any of the action (which could give new meaning to the term "contemplating your navel.") Speaking of new meanings, this weird science could lead to a whole new set of vocabulary oddities. For example would a sweatshirt TV fitted out for the hearing impaired have "clothesed captioning?" Would a baby bib TV come equipped with a "video feed?" Would "volume control" suddenly have a double meaning--not only referring to turning down the sound, but maybe alluding to somebody's need to trim a few pounds so that they can fit into their wearable television?

I'm left wondering why Phillips wants to spend time and money developing this technology? I get the concept of developing flexible, portable TV screens; there are lots of practical applications, but what real purpose would clothing that can double as an idiot box serve? I wrote last week about how scientists are developing "electronic clothing for emergency personnel that can have updatable messages written across them in glowing letters." That I get, but furry fabric televisions sewn into clothing? That's too weird for even my extra-weird imagination to see the point. Anybody else have any "this is a great idea because..." solutions for me?