While two plus two equals four, combining two smaller displays to form a larger one isn't nearly as simple. But that's the problem Google is reportedly working to solve.
The advanced projects lab of Google, also known as Google X, is reportedly developing displays which "plug together like Legos to create a seamless image," The Wall Street Journalreported.
The story's fairly light on details. It isn't clear, for example, whether Google plans to develop the technology into a product, or when it could be commercialized. The Journal wasn't able to learn whether the displays would be touch-enabled, for example, or how large the entire display would be.
The Journal does make an analogy to Perceptive Pixel (image above, top), the Microsoft startup that manufactures touchscreen displays of over 80 inches in size. Google's challenge would apparently be to manufacture bezel-less displays that could be placed next to one another, with minimal gaps to distract the eye. That would presumably offer a Perceptive Pixel-like display at a fraction of the cost. Another way to achieve a similar effect is to project a large image onto a wall or other surface, then using a depth camera or other sensor to detect input.
Whether Google could sell the technology to consumers or businesses, however, would be another question. But technologies like Project Loon, which attempts to connect rural areas wirelessly via balloons, shows that Google isn't always interested in immediate profits, either.
Why this matters: Google's "moonshots" often have long-term impact, even if a project's rationale isn't immediately understood. Whether this research will pan out, it underscores that two of technology's giants--Google and Microsoft--think massive displays have a future.