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June 14, 2024
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Micro LED monitors connect like puzzle pieces in HP multi-monitor concept

Micro LED monitors connect like puzzle pieces in HP multi-monitor concept

Enlarge / Yes, there are bigger monitors, but is there a better way to have a tri-monitor setup?

In a technical disclosure published this month, HP explored a Micro LED monitor concept that would enable consumers to easily use various multi-monitor configurations through the use of “Lego-like building blocks.” HP has no immediate plans to make what it has called “composable Micro LED monitors,” but its discussion explores a potential way to simplify multitasking with numerous displays.

HP’s paper [PDF], written by HP scientists and technical architects, discusses a theoretical monitor that supports the easy addition of more flat or curved screens on its left, right, or bottom sides (the authors noted that top extensions could also be possible but they were “trying to keep the number of configurations manageable”). The setup would use one 12×12-inch “core” monitor that has a cable to the connected system. The computer’s operating system (OS) would be able to view the display setup as one, two, or multiple monitors, and physical switches would let users quickly disable displays.

  • The illustration shows a monitor made of a core unit and two extension panels viewed as three monitors (left), two monitors (middle), and two monitors with different orientations (right).

  • This illustration shows two core units and two extensions used to make dual, triple, and quadruple-display setups.

Not a real product

HP’s paper is only a technical disclosure, which companies often publish in order to support potential patent filings. So it’s possible that we’ll never see HP release “composable Micro LED monitors” as described. An HP spokesperson told me:

HP engineering teams are constantly exploring new ways to leverage the latest technologies. The composable Micro LED monitors within the technical disclosure are conceptual, but HP has turned past concepts like this into commercially viable products and solutions.

There’s also growing interest in making multi-monitor workspaces easier to set up and navigate, including by speedier connectivity, enhanced port selection, improved docks, and thinner displays. In January, Samsung teased a concept called The Link that showed thin, 32-inch, 4K LED monitors daisy-chained together “without a separate cable.” Samsung originally said the monitors would connect via pogo pins but later redacted that.

As you’ll see, there’s a lot more that would need to be worked out than what’s in HP’s concept in order to make a real product.

Adjustable multi-monitor setups

HP’s paper goes deeper into how monitors, connected via pogo pins or RFID readers and tags, might enable different single and multi-monitor setups depending on the user’s need.

HP’s concept connects extensions to the core monitors “in a similar way to a jigsaw” and also uses magnets to help alignment. The authors explain:

The core-to-extension connection includes an electrical connection, allowing seamless connectivity to the core unit. They will only physically connect in ways that will function correctly as displays. The magnets in the passive connection covers and extension edges are strong enough to hold adjacent displays together, but not strong enough to support the weight of an extension.

The authors provide various examples of how users might be able to construct different sized monitors with different panels. Suggested users include a video editor who might use a bigger screen for video with a smaller one for editing tools. The paper also touches on further potential innovations, like using different types of tech, such as eInk, for extension displays.

  • An illustration depicting the backside of connected core units (dark gray) with display extensions (light gray).

  • Different-sized configurations.

Like with any multi-monitor setup, bezels or visible seams where the displays connect could distract users. The paper suggests an ideal solution as one that uses “rays originating from pixels near the boundary between adjacent panels” to “propagate across the boundary without any distortion caused by reflection or refraction.”

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