Digital wallpaper.

CED's Brian SantoOne of the demonstrations at the recent Cable Show got me thinking: Cable operators may soon end up doing double duty for their subscribers, acting not only as their service providers, but also as their perpetual interior decorators – sort of like Elgin from the old "Murphy Brown" show.

NDS was demonstrating how relatively inexpensive ultra-flat, ultra-light, flexible displays might be seamlessly tiled across entire walls. The wall becomes a multi-purpose screen for anything the homeowner wants to display, including video, calendar notices, to-do lists, virtual clocks, photo collages – essentially anything that can be depicted visually.

The idea isn't new. The folks from NDS acknowledge the idea is already manifested in the enormous display in the lobby of Comcast's headquarters in Philadelphia, which in turn is reminiscent of that widely viewed video from Corning a few years back called "A world of glass," which in turn harked back to ideas being discussed by the MIT Media Lab in the 1980s, which picked up on a notion not uncommon in anteceding science fiction.

NDS' tiled displayNDS wasn't trying to pretend the idea was new, though. Its point is that wall displays are imminently feasible.

So, yes, some subsection of your wall – or even the whole wall – could be your TV screen.

But what if you want your wall to be a wall? You might want your service provider to be able to match the color of the other three walls, or match the color or design of the upholstery on nearby furniture. Sounds simple to the average person, but you all are in the TV business – you know that absolute color matching is devilishly hard. You might want to strike up relationships with Sherwin-Williams, Ikea and Pantone.

Of course, some people will find digital paint or digital wainscoting uninspiring. I can imagine some people might want to actually use the display wall as a display. What might they want on there? Static pictures, perhaps, of the caves at Lascaux, or the Coliseum, or the statues on Easter Island? Easy, and people can do that themselves.

But what about offering those subscribers a rich range of live and dynamic ultra-HD video of Times Square, or the Great Barrier Reef, or the canopy of a South American rainforest? Might consume some bandwidth, but then again, you might be able to charge for that. …