Samsung modular display
Courtesy of Samsung

Come Sunday, football fans across the U.S. are going to flock to the biggest screen in their house to watch the game of the year unfold. Quite a few may even use the occasion to justify buying a new and even bigger TV set.

However, for some consumers, size already isn’t everything. Fast forward a few years, and you may find yourself in completely different living spaces, with different needs and desires. “The home viewing environment and the way consumers watch TV is constantly evolving,” Samsung’s home entertainment marketing SVP Dave Das recently told Variety. “We can only imagine how they are going to be watching the big game 10 years from now.”

Some of Samsung’s researchers have already been working on new TV design concepts that could one day completely change how we buy and possibly even watch TVs. The company displayed some of that work at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, with a focus on modular display tiles that can be bought separately and then combined to a variety of shapes.

“For instance, consumers can upgrade to a larger size TV in the future without having to replace their existing TV,” said Das. “They can just add on more screens  and even scale the aspect ratio depending upon the content from 21:9 to 16:9.”

Part of the demonstration at CES also included the ability of displays to automatically adjust their size based on the aspect radio of a video — think of it as a kind of Transformer television. Said Das: “These displays can go from a 16:9 screen ratio to a 21:9 screen, simply by splitting the screen into two parts and reassembling on the sides when you decide to watch a wide-screen video like a movie.”

Of course, companies like Samsung tend to display all kinds of concept products at trade shows, and most of them never become a finished product. A display that automatically changes its size may seem far-fetched. But the concept of modular displays that can be bought over time, and then assembled to a TV screen based on one’s personal needs and budget, is intriguing.

To be fair, Samsung isn’t the first company to explore modular TVs. Set-top maker NDS, which has since become part of Cisco, already showed off a slightly less-polished version of this idea back in 2012. But the fact that one of the biggest manufacturers of TV sets in the world is exploring the same concepts goes to show that TVs may look very different in the future.

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