LAS VEGAS, NV -- At huge tradeshows like CES, companies often pile up their booths or suites with every product they have available, present and near future, and there’s often little treasures floating around the expansive showrooms. Asus always has multiple rooms in a suite set up, and among the widgets great and small was a piece of flexible, clear polycarbonate-and-rubber that Asus was using to “erase” bezels on multi-monitor setups.
It’s actually called the “bezel-free kit,” and it performs its magic trick using no active electronics of any kind. It’s literally just an optical illusion that uses light refraction to obscure the black bezels on the edges of two side-by-side monitors (or more practically, three side-by-side-by-side monitors using two of these things). The top and bottom have thick black ends that snugly fit onto the top and bottom of a monitor. In between them is the aforementioned strip of clear material that overlaps the edge of each monitor by an inch or so. The clear piece is like a long triangle that nestles back into the monitors at a 130-degree angle.
As you can see, the effect is by no means perfect. In erasing the bezels, this technique leaves the edges of each display a bit fuzzy. The idea is that it smooths out the overall image that’s splashed across three monitors. That’s it. And that’s fine. It doesn’t claim to do any more than that.
Asus said that the Bezel-Free Kit is still just a proof of concept, but it’s “probably” going to come to market at some point. It should work with essentially any thin-bezel monitor.
What we found most intriguing is that we saw this exact same thing at MSI’s Computex booth this past summer, but not at CES. Instead, it was Asus showing off a prototype in Las Vegas.
I was hoping some clever software hack would enable anamorphic rendering in the joining edges of the monitors, so the projected bit would seem (nearly) undistorted.
And again, we're comparing against triple-monitor setups, which as far as I know don't provide any universal way to compensate for the angles of the displays. Aside from a few hardcore racing sims, I don't know of any games that allow you to adjust for screen angles in a multi-monitor setup, so the geometry of the outer screens will appear quite distorted.
Of course, as far as immersive viewing angles go, VR will probably beat multi-monitor setups before long, once the resolution of headsets increases and they get eye-tracking to allow for optimizations that can make those resolutions viable. It's probably at least a few years off before HMDs will be able to make use of resolutions like that though.