Here's one genius idea whose time is yet to come: let people stream online pictures from their accounts on sites such as Facebook and Flickr to the digital frames on their desks, walls and nightstands along with news, stocks and weather updates, and an occasional ad.
There's a company called Thinking Screen Media that does exactly that via its FrameChannel service. Get a wifi-enabled frame, plug into the info stream via FrameChannel and select among dozens of sources, and there you have your own Captivate screen you stare at during elevator rides in the office. Only now it's in your bedroom. Incidentally, Captivate's founder is on the board of this new company.
The company has done tests with IPG and plans to start selling its ad inventory some time this year. It also has just launched an iPad app that turns the device into digital frame.
The idea is genius because as hardware prices drop and people's comfort with the tech grows, everyone will soon have as many screens on surfaces around them as they now have old-fashioned paper photos. All of these screens will be online.
The idea is early because today wireless frame penetration is at 5%.
Some 5.9 million digital frames shipped in 2008 in the US and the market will remain flat until 2013, and IDC expects that by then two thirds of all frames shipped will have a wireless capability.
Funny, there are people who have already figured out how to block ads on this barely emerging medium (lie about your location during sign-up).
Eventually, digital frames will become wallet-sized. They will be monetized as well: every tenth time that you open your wallet you'll see an ad. Then, our windows will be internet-ready as well.