Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
h a l f b a k e r y
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Sunlit television for your patio
  (+5, -3)
(+5, -3)
  [vote for,

The lawn television is a toy one would keep covered up and chained to something in the garage while not in use but would be wheeled out with pride to a sunny position in the yard on game day. The television would consist of a display surrounded by a set of unfolding panels that reflect sunlight toward the back of the display and shade the front of the display. The display itself would contain pixels made with some combination of Lite Brite and LCD technology to use the sun as a backlight. Each pixel would be a translucent red, blue, or green piece of plastic or glass set inside a hole made for it in an opaque screen. Sunlight would be reflected from the back of the screen through the pixel to the front where it gets darkened a certain amount by an LCD pane depending on whether the TV needs the pixel lit or not. It could be powered by a battery or possibly solar panels with the hope that the lack of a backlight would keep its energy requirements low, but an extension cord could also be practical given the television might also require some type of tether to a content stream coming from cable or satellite. The main idea would be bringing the wonders of television outside of the living room and combining it with the wonders of being outdoors if only in the backyard.

A sunlit lawn television would be a great companion for a grill and a draw for gatherings. Introducing a device like this to the public at an affordable price would bring a flurry of consumerism as people who wouldn't otherwise see the sun very often would be scrambling to buy things like outdoor furniture and coolers. With any luck, it would have a positive net effect on public health as otherwise completely sedentary people would be just a little more active given more room to run (or waddle) around in.

evildork, Nov 04 2007

Lawnovision (sorta) http://select.nytim...region/05towns.html
There is, somewhere in the depths of the NY Times, a great article about a baseball groundsman who mows the pitches he tends into pictures using the direction of the cut. Untl I find that one, here is another lawn artist, who uses short vs. tall grass to make his pictures. [DrCurry, Nov 06 2007]

Lite Brite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lite_Brite
Lite Brite used a light bulb, black paper, and pegs. The pegs 'conduct' light through the holes and the paper obscures it. [Spacecoyote, Nov 06 2007]


       //combination of Lite Brite and LCD technology// are you serious? or just 7 years old?   


evilpenguin, Nov 05 2007

       OK, we've got a large, solar-powered outdoor television, to get couch-potatoes off the couch, and that's all good.   

       However, I'm not clear how the sunlight will be used directly to illuminate the pixels in appropriate colours. I have a vague memory of LCDs working by polarization of light, but I have no idea how Lite Brite works at all. Would you care to expand on this a bit, and/or provide some links?
pertinax, Nov 05 2007

       Ah. I was hoping this would be some kind of grass blade pixellation system.
DrCurry, Nov 05 2007

       I thought this was going to be:

"In the same way as your television picture is built up by a raster scan of the image, the 'lawn television' lawnmower performs a raster scan of your lawn, mowing or not mowing individual 'pixels' of grass. In this way a frame of video can be displayed on your lawn. You than have to wait for a month for the lawn to grow back before you can display the next frame but, if you photograph these frames and play them back at normal speed, after a couple of decades you'll have enough for a few seconds of video."
hippo, Nov 05 2007

       hippo: yeah, that's what I said. Only with a lot more words. (Though I'm not sure I was expecting mowing, maybe just a root manipulation system to flip the grass leaves.)
DrCurry, Nov 05 2007

       (+) Makes sense to me. In practice, keeping the sun reflected into the right place may be a problem, but not an insurmountable one.
jutta, Nov 06 2007

       Yeah, I was expecting some sort of dyed watering system to change the colour of the leaves on a pixel raster basis, although I guess they'd always be mostly green. You could periodically cover them up so that they lose most of the chlorophyll. Turnover might be as little as a day or two per frame.   

       [jutta], I have heard of polymer columns utilising total internal reflection to collect and concentrate light from varying angles, I can't find a link though.
TheLightsAreOnBut, Nov 06 2007

       someone explain "lite brite" technology to me please? Is he suggesting that LCD crystals manipulate translucent plastic pegs by pushing them through black construction paper over and over again?   

       Lite-Brite-technology, I just think that's du ...
evilpenguin, Nov 06 2007

       [TheLightsAreOnBut], I had a toy van that did that when I was a child, a Commer or some such in 1:43. Under normal indoor light the headlights would appear to be on unless one puts one's finger on the rooftop ventilator.
Ned_Ludd, Nov 06 2007


       Light Bright LCD technology is simple. The LB pegs are in clusters of three (RBG LB clusters). The LCD is used to render the screen behind them opaque. The image is formed when the LCD screen is made selectively transparent, allowing the sunlight to pass through different pegs, forming images.   

       Why do you think this is stupid? It's really kind of a neat idea.
nomocrow, Nov 06 2007

       I think this is a case of [evil...] envy.
TheLightsAreOnBut, Nov 06 2007

       \\Why do you think this is stupid? It's really kind of a neat idea\\   

       Because I was looking at literally. You simply cannot combine lite brite's with mircoscopic LCD elements. A tiny LC putting pegs into construction paper 24 times a second!   

       Okay, you wonder why it sounds stupid to me, lets combine an etch-a-sketch and DLP and make a outdoor TV! No explaination of how the two technologies work together, but oh course they will, I just posted on the bakery. DUMB   

       Let me say, I think the idea of an outdoor TV would be great. I'm not knocking that, I'm knocking the use of a childrens TOY as a electronically controlled display device. And personally, I believe DLP (mircomirrors) would reflect the suns ambient light much better that some combination of LC's and plastic pegs. (I live AV)
evilpenguin, Nov 06 2007

       In other words, you think it's dumb because you didn't read the idea closely enough. Great.
nomocrow, Nov 06 2007

       Yeah, everyone is hung up on the term "Lite Brite". What you're talking about is an LCD display that uses the sun to drive the pixels communally and an LCD panel to vary the intensity of the individual pixels.   

       This might be hard to implement since you'll not want to be facing directly into or directly away from the sun when viewing the display. If the whole assembly is on a giant lazy susan (sorry [susen]) - including the seats, you could automatically track the sun for optimum viewing.
phoenix, Nov 06 2007

       This idea would be SO much better if DLP* is used vs. LCD.   

       *digital light processing. Uses micromirrors to manipulate light levels in grayscale. Completely mecnanical, no light passing through.
evilpenguin, Nov 06 2007

       //combination of Lite Brite and LCD technology//   

       Thousands of Sony workers are weeping right now. Lite Brite and LCD are almost polar opposites! The idea itself is okay, but it needs some pruning.
Shadow Phoenix, Nov 06 2007

       Using an LCD would waste (ie block) most of your light input and give you an image less bright than ambient. I'd go with DLP style micromirrors and a grid of pressed prisms to split the light into RGB, like the system used on the XO (aka OLPC).   

       Either that or a cadre of trained butterflies.
BunsenHoneydew, Nov 09 2007

       My parents would have never given me a Lite Brite had they known of its potential to cause brain damage. My Lite Brite-illuminated childhood memories are what makes that toy come to mind when I think of devices that make use of backlights.   

       I understand why DLP or other display technologies might provide a brighter picture, but an LCD version of this seems easier to implement.   

       [phoenix] brought up a good point about aligning the display with the sun. I was thinking some type of awning would extend from the top of the display over the viewer providing shade so the back of the TV would face directly towards the sun with panels extending from either side of the display so viewer isn't straining to see a dim display in front of a bright background. Putting the television and the viewers on a sun-tracking carousel seems like it would get a bit too bulky. That's a possibility for high-end models, but rotating the display on motorized wheels would be more practical. Making the viewer get up and nudge the TV over during the commercial breaks might turn a lot of customers off, but that's what I had in mind originally. A sundial could be placed on the TV to aid alignment.
evildork, Jun 25 2008


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