Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Junkyard Jumbotron Turns Many Screens Into One

by Dylan Schenker
Smartphones and iPads, while providing an overall immersive experience, can still seem pretty alienating because most of us pore over them without any consideration for the world around us. They can foster a very isolated media experience, as our attention is focused specifically on a device that, at its core, was never designed to accommodate more than one user at a time. Conversely, they also provide great multimedia and interactive access to digital film and images. Could these small devices be somehow brought together to not only enhance their display capabilities, but also offer a more shared experience? The folks over at the MIT Labs have offered a quirky solution to this problem.

Using simple browser-based technology they have created the Junkyard Jumbotron, which allows users to cluster a group of screen-based devices (including smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to form a larger screen. After bringing up a unique URL on each device, one takes a photograph of all the screens, which is then analyzed by special software that maps out the location of each screen in relation to the others. Then the image can be transmitted to multiple devices at once, creating a fragmented, mosaic-like effect.

Not only does the Junkyard Jumbotron increase the size of a photograph, it also allows for zooming and panning, which subsequently moves the images on all the screens at once. Although the technology is only used for images so far, we can’t help but think about what it would be like to view video in the same way. While the boundaries of each display don’t make for the most unified experience, the effect could be appropriated for aesthetic purposes by an enterprising artist. It would also make for a neat party trick with a group of smartphone-toting friends.