Picture this: you’re sitting at home watching your favourite show, but instead of holding a beer bottle, one’s floating in the middle of the TV screen.
Sound like science fiction? The Magnetic Floating LCD Screen is actually one of the futuristic, but very real, products dreamed up by tech entrepreneur Kevin Andreassend, whose Auckland-based company Ice AVspecialises in integrating communication, LED, multi-touch, display and interactive hardware and software.
The floating beer bottle, for example, is possible because Andreassend took a traditional LCD screen; removed its centre so the wall behind was visible, then used magnets to create a force field that kept the object suspended.
Another of Ice AV’s products is the HoloDesk, which DJs use to mix music. It has a screen with dual images so the audience can see how they manipulate and create sounds.
“Our company philosophy is there’s always magic in the screen,” says Andreassend.
“We want to offer people a different experience that’s not normal, but still cool. It sounds very sci-fi and unrealistic, but the technology behind it makes it possible.”
Building the company over the last decade hasn’t been easy – Andreassend says his only means of promotion at the start was an advertisement in the Yellow Pages, and working the telephone.
He recalls creating his first, commissioned, project 18 years ago for a Whangaparaoa real estate agency. He used a projection screen, hidden in the shop, to display images onto the agency’s front window.
Now he has more than 120 videos documenting his technology projects. Although still the sole shareholder, he has two fulltime mechanical and engineering staff and uses contractors.
Two overseas businesses have contacted Andreassend about ordering the floating LCD screen; one requested 500 and the other 1000.
Another Ice AV offering is a spherical LED display. Andreassend says two companies have inquired about the digital ball, which takes four months to manufacture and costs a cool US$1.3 million to buy.