Around the Bend?
A curved screen may go some way towards reducing this distortion and may create less reflection allowing the screen to be dimmer, extending the life of the display and reducing power consumption. Photograph: Shutterstock
We will be seeing more curved large screen televisions hit the shops over the next few years as, according to scientists, we seem to like them. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive (possibly because we are so used to a flat image for the last 50 years?) but a curved screen on a large scale may actually make sense; flat screen CRT technologies required corrections to the edges (remember S correction anyone?), and with extremely large flat screen images, without corrective processing, we may also perceive distortions towards the edges. A curved screen may go some way towards reducing this distortion and may create less reflection allowing the screen to be dimmer, extending the life of the display and reducing power consumption. Sounds reasonable. Organic LED (OLED) technology is also pushing this as this type of manufacturing allows flexible screens to be readily produced; albeit more expensively than conventional LED tech.
That is the practical case in a nutshell, but the neuroscientists have also been looking at this with their functional magnetic resonance imaging machines rigged up to the brains of human lab rats and what they have found is intriguing also; evidence suggests that as human beings, we like rounded, softer objects and images rather than hard, straight lines. Neuroaesthetics is the word (you read it here first? well almost - New Scientist actually) and it represents the neurological basis for our appreciation of beauty; curves stimulate pleasure areas of our brain, whilst angles stimulated areas that detect threats; it is amazing what they can do with a few wires stuck down with Gaffa tape on your head. Guess what, experiments indicate that curved television screens are more pleasing than flat ones - that will please television manufacturers too I am sure...
But I sort of get it? No really? I like rounded objects (the number 8 is my favourite number) and it may be that these techno boffins (television manufacturers and neuroscientists alike) may be onto something. Even smartphone manufacturers are latching onto this which can only be supported by the aesthetic argument as distortions to the image on a small flat screen are imperceptible; there is no real practical reason for a small, curved screen.
There are plenty of rumours that the Apple iPhone 6 will have a curved screen though, so if Apple is going to employ it, there must be something in it.
I suppose that the ultimate neuroscientific test to determine whether we like curves over angles is whether we will preferentially buy these products and we will be finding this out over the next two or three years; curved screen television shipments this year will be in the region of 800k units but predicted to be more than 6m by 2017.
Coupled with UHD technology we could be in for some very curious developments; 360 degree fully immersive 8k television anyone??? Imagine that!