Transparent Screen that Projects “Floating” Images Opens New Possibilities for Display

A photo of an animated character projected onto a transparent screen.

You might be surprised to see an animated character floating in the air, as if the world of anime had burst into the real world. But there’s no reason to be surprised. What you’re seeing is an image projected onto a transparent screen. Technology developed by Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd. (DNP), can clearly project such images even in bright, well-lit places, making it appear that an object actually exists right in front of you. Our transparent screen opens up all kinds of possibilities.

  • Secret of the transparent screen that can project beautiful images
  • Adopted by AbemaTV. What are its advantages?
  • Its use is becoming more widespread, from entertainment to spatial presentations
  • The future that advanced transparent screens can help create

Secret of the transparent screen that can project beautiful images

A photo of DNP’s transparent screen

The above photo shows DNP’s transparent screen, which looks like a 3-mm-to-4-mm thick transparent plastic sheet. Special processing done to the screen is invisible to the naked eye.

The screen is made of three layers. A special film about 0.3 mm thick, which has optical lenses inside, is sandwiched by two plastic sheets. The film has fine concentric channels and reflects light from a short-throw projector in a forward direction, thus creating floating images. The screen has won praise for its transparency, as well as for the brightness of the projected images.

Its transparency is about same as transparent glass

As its name indicates, the product is highly transparent. In terms of haze value, which measures the degree of haze in a material, the screen has a value of 0.9%*¹, or is almost transparent. That compares with transparent glass (0.5%) and completely white frosted glass (100%).

  • The measurements were conducted by DNP.

Projected images are clear and bright, even in bright places

A photo of DNP's transparent screen with a bright projected image

By using a special optical lens developed by DNP, the screen is capable of effectively gathering light. This means it can project clearer images in bright places compared with conventional products.

Adopted by AbemaTV. What are its advantages?

An image of DNP’s transparent screen from AbemaTV broadcast
Image from AbemaTV broadcast

In 2018, a transparent screen was used in the AbemaTV *² program “Niji Sanji no Kuji Juji (unofficial English translation: “Two o’clock, Three o’clock, Nine o’clock and Ten o’clock”) to create a dramatic effect.

“I learned about DNP’s transparent screen just as I was thinking about how to project the entire body of an avatar engineered by a virtual YouTuber,” said Kentaro Modegi, CEO of Kid’s Plates Inc., who was instrumental in the product’s adoption by the program. “After being briefed about its features, I found it epoch-making in terms of technologies that project images. I first used it at an event, and then in the program. I realized that it was capable of projecting a floating high-definition video even when a TV program was filmed during the daytime. That allowed us to create an amazing effect that people had never seen before.”

*² AbemaTV program “Niji Sanji no Kuji Juji”
An Internet program featuring virtual YouTubers (Vtubers = online entertainers who appear as an avatar created by computer graphics or illustration) Abema is a Japanese live TV streaming website owned by Abema TV. Inc. as the entertainment company. The company provides a media service directly to viewers via the Internet in Japan.

Display attracts media attention overseas

The transparent screen was showcased in March 2019 at the Japanese booth sponsored by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at a major information technology event in North America. In May that year, the screen was also exhibited at Display Week 2019, an event hosted by the Society for Information Display in the United States. The screen got a lot of attention and was featured in various news programs and by media outlets.

Its use is becoming more widespread, from entertainment to spatial presentations

The transparent screen is starting to have an effect on people’s everyday life. Combining it with objects placed behind the screen can create special spatial presentations, while it is less visible when it is not in use. It has many advantages not seen in conventional screens.

How the screen can be used for displays in clothes stores

A photo of a private showing of new Epson productsThe photo shows a proposed use of the screen at a private showing of new Epson products.

Use of the screen is now spreading to merchandise displays. For example, placing them around mannequins in clothes stores enables the creation of displays that combine fashion items and video.

DNP’s transparent screen can also be used above supermarket shelves so that it can display data of the items such as the areas where they are produced. It can be used for PR purposes without obstructing the view of the product.

A photo of DNP’s transparent screen used in supermarket shelves

An use case in stores: a feasibility study at bloomingbloomy in Tokyo

A photo of feasibility study in the DNP Plaza in Tokyo

Another use cases in stores: a feasibility study at DNP Plaza in Tokyo

The future that advanced transparent screens can help create

Illustrations depicting a future where transparent screen technology will have advanced

The above illustrations depict a future where transparent screen technology will have advanced and be used in many different fields.

Installing a transparent screen between the field and seats in a sports stadium could allow spectators to view real-time scores and data on the players while watching the game.

This revolutionary technology will also make it possible for passengers to use their driving time effectively when complete autonomous driving is realized. If the front windshield is a transparent screen, passengers can watch a movie while travelling. And if you decide to drive the vehicle yourself, the screen can help you by displaying the automotive navigation system.

The transparent screen has many possibilities in terms of how the display functions, raising expectations for an exciting future.

*The information in this article was correct as of the publication date.

  • * Publication date: June 4, 2019
  • * Last updated date: June 30, 2022
  • * DNP department names, product specifications and other details are correct only at the time of writing. They are subject to change without prior notice.