LG has applied for a patent concerning a TV that uses sliding speakers to change its aspect ratio.Credit: WIPOSpotted on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Hague Express register by Digital Trends, the South Korean company filed its application in May 2018. As WIPO is part of the United Nations, getting on its register makes protecting its inventions around the world far easier.
The idea is that rather than having black bars on either side of the screen to make up for the different aspect ratios of various films, TV shows and video games, a pair of speakers will move horizontally along the screen’s frame. These speakers then block off the parts of the screen which are displaying nothing.
The screen’s full size ratio, once the speakers have moved to the opposite sides of the TV and almost all the way off the frame, is 21:9, the size of ultra-wide content.
Given that 16:9 is the most commonly used size for screens today, the speakers would be able to move in and remove the need for any ugly black bars. They can move in to help frame a 4:3 ratio, too, but then you do end up with both black bars and speakers trying to cover the unused bits of the display.
The images from the patent document also indicate a default mode where both speakers are slid together on the same side, accompanied by an illustration showing what looks similar to a smartphone lock screen.
This could be the resting status of the speakers when the TV’s not in use, but perhaps this is an alternate way for the screen to display content smaller than its maximum size.
Remember that the usual caveats with patents apply here. Yes, it’s fascinating to see what tech companies are thinking about doing next to advance their products further, but this is no guarantee that we’ll even see a prototype, let alone a consumer product. And in this case, the patent’s not been granted yet.