Sixty Years On, Television Sets Go From Being the Hearth of Home to Vanishing Mirror TVs

Television in 1950s as the new hearth of home — By Evert F. Baumgardner
Today, Waterproof and Vanishing Mirror TVs

So how’d we get here — to where TV households worldwide were estimated at just under 2 billion in 2016?

In 1946, there were about 6,000 televisions in America. But boosted by a booming post-war economy and accelerating innovation, about 50% of American homes had a TV set by the mid-‘50s. The early color RCA sets were designed as furniture and became the focal point, the new hearth, of our homes.

By the ’60s, almost 90% of American homes had a set. And, by the ’70s, our ubiquitous TVs became the display devices for the first recorded media, and then later for the first generation of home computers. Then big screen TVs eventually demanded the need for dedicated media rooms.

But then a personal experience got me thinking about TVs in different scenarios like “wet” environments — in our bathrooms, spas and even showers.

The Public House is a big Los Angeles sports/soccer bar where I’ve been part of 400 fans enthusiastically watching the Copa America tournament last summer. We also watched the Champions League final outside on the bar’s back patio. So I went to watch my fave Premier League team Tottenham play in our Champions League group games outdoors this last winter.

But with LA’s wetter than normal winter, we had to head back inside. With the rain pounding down, it brought up those questions about watching sports on TV screens outdoors, or even by a pool. Even more, with no commercial breaks during soccer games, what about continuously watching a game during a bathroom run? Or what about watching any sports or entertainment program in any wet indoor environment? Hello, are there waterproof TVs that are safe in the shower, with no electrical problems?

When I Googled “waterproof tv” it led me to a bunch of display companies, from giant multinationals to Soulaca, a display technology developer and manufacturer of waterproof TVs — vanishing and mirror TVs, and steam proof TVs to even put in your shower.

Watching some demo videos was like watching a sci-fi movie like Star Trek, except their future tools are actually real visual devices being used today — screens appear seemingly out of nowhere in a mirror, and then you can remote control them away and the full mirror re-appears.

I know, right? But I wanted to know the state of the art of waterproof TVs today. Soulaca’s co-founder Luke Liu had a “Eureka” moment and began manufacturing their own waterproof TVs in 2010. Liu explains:

“In 2009, I was staying in a Ritz Carlton hotel and accidentally found a red LED lighting spot on the mirror over the washbasin. I touched it, then a TV program magically showed up on the mirror. I discovered it was called waterproof mirror TV. After that, I consciously checked what televisions they used in hotel bathrooms. I soon found the new hotels or refreshed hotels were increasingly using mirror TV’s or waterproof TV’s in their bathrooms. Some installed the mirror TV’s over the washbasin, some installed the waterproof TV’s (non-mirror) near the bathtub, and some installed both. I realized that the waterproof TV would be a growing trend for the bathroom, including at home. And you can continue watching The Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory while showering!”

Doing some more research, I discovered there’s an international standard for waterproof TV ratings, so you don’t have to worry about the water/electricity issue, and these cool products are safe to use around wet environments like in bathrooms and kitchens or even near indoor/outdoor spas and pools. The television is typically sealed in such a way — using mechanical technology and sealed with waterproof glue — that they can be splashed, rained on, or, in some cases, submerged in water and still work. Really, wow?!

And then beyond this great safety aspect, there’s that futuristic innovation. With Mirror TVs, the television images seemingly appear out of nowhere, like in those great sci-fi movies. The LCD panel is actually installed behind the semi-permeable mirror, then covered and sealed using a back cover. When the TV is off, people can just see and use the mirror because of optical reflection. When the TV’s LCD panel is powered on, the LCD panel’s light can pass through the mirror, so people can then view their favorite program on the screen. And for us soccer fans, we don’t have to miss our game coverage during a bathroom break.

Also, waterproof TVs can have screens that are heated so that they won’t fog over in a bathroom environment. This heated screen option is useful for televisions in rooms with a lot of steam, such as showers or saunas. These televisions are also equipped with a waterproof remote control that can be used in the same wet environment as the TV.

Now, more and more people realize they can have fun and watch television in the bathroom while shaving, taking a shower, or even relaxing by their spa/pool. And, in the near future, suppliers will incorporate waterproof TV’s in your intelligent home system where they’ll detect your body when you enter, via an infrared ray that will then power on your television.

We’ve sure come a long way baby from television as furniture. But with the advent of OLED (organic light emitting diode), we now have the next-gen display technology. OLED is increasingly being incorporated into television displays, offering even better image quality. Additionally, Liu says small sized OLED/LCD modules can be customized for various devices including: wearable devices, energy meter equipment, check-in machines, fiscal processors, intelligent home solutions, medical facilities and industrial equipment. Liu enthuses, “The dawn of new technology display takes us into a whole new world. What you imagine, we make real.”

For more information about IP safety ratings, and where a waterproof TV can work for you, check out Soulaca and get the skinny

Award-winning journalist-author-blogger for Playboy, TO Star, Movie Entertainment, HuffPost, Hello Canada & my novel REJEX (Pulp Hero Press) is on Amazon.