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Google building Lego-like screens that seamlessly connect to form larger displays

Multiple screens Google X project
As if drone deliveries, driverless cars and defining the picture of perfect human health weren’t enough, Google is reportedly setting its sights on a new vision: screens of various shapes and sizes that connect to one another to create larger displays. In other words, Lego-like blocks of screens.

The secret project is part of Google X, the company’s stealthy innovation lab, according to The Wall Street Journal. Three people familiar with the project say the goal is to create large screens of various shapes and sizes comprising smaller screens that seamlessly fit together like Legos.

Details about the project are sparse – for instance, the sizes of the modular screens aren’t known and the overall objective for the project is left a mystery.

What is known, however, is that Mary Lou Jepsen is leading the endeavor. Jepsen, a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab who co-founded One Laptop per Child, is the head of the Display Division at Google X. This isn’t her first screen-related rodeo: Jepsen (whose website’s tag line is “screens to change our visions”) co-founded Pixel Qi, a startup that develops self-powered computing screens that are readable in direct sunlight, for instance.

One problem the project is reportedly aiming to squash is the current inability to make seamless combinations of screens. If you use multi-screen setups at your home or office desk, you know how screen bezels can put a damper on the experience. These modular screens would, the logic goes, be free of bezels, opening up the door to truly seamless multi-screen experiences.

The modular screens being developed in Jepsen’s Google X project could be used for everyday tasks like watching television or movies, browsing the Internet, or reading email – maybe all at the same time, according to Riddhi Patel, research director at NPD DisplaySearch, who was cited in the Wall Street Journal report. She doesn’t see these large Voltron-like screens as consumer-friendly, at least not until they’re more affordable and easier to install.

It’s impossible to hear about this project and not think of another Lego-like product Google has in the works: Project Ara, which is focused on creating smartphones that can be assembled by connecting separate modular blocks.

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Jason Hahn
Jason Hahn is a part-time freelance writer based in New Jersey. He earned his master's degree in journalism at Northwestern…
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