Using Digital Photo Frames for Art and Photography

Digital art exhibit


To spread the message “Protect endangered species”, the world-famous documentary magazine National Geographic is currently touring the world with a photo exhibition. The images shown in the “Endangered Animal Photography Exhibition” were taken by American photographer and author Joel Sartore, a long-standing partner of the magazine. He also leads the National Geographic Photo Ark Project, a 25-year project to document the approximately 12,000 animal species that live in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries.

The exhibition is currently running until April 15 in Istanbul, Turkey, and features photos from 10 years of the photographer’s work. Samsung Electronics supports the National Geographic exhibition with its technology. Visitors can view various endangered animals on Samsung’s lifestyle displays The Frame and The Serif. The design TVs are of course suitable for watching TV, but have also been optimized for the presentation of photos and art in the interior just like digital poster frames.

Pure digital art displays, on the other hand, are still more of a niche product, but some providers with high demands specialize in them. Thus, Canvas II wants to be a “huge digital picture frame with all the well-known works of art from the great museums and galleries of the world”. The device bears the nickname “Meural”, which refers to the original developer company Meural before it was acquired by the American network specialist Netgear at the end of 2019.

Renowned works of art digitally

Canvas II is available in two sizes 21.5″ and 27″ as well as in different colors. Internal sensors detect whether the frame hangs horizontally or vertically and adjust the content or show only the corresponding content. Due to the display technology inside, the frame is quite heavy with 7 or 9 kilos depending on the size. The contents can be booked, and two lists of 17 and 22 works of art can be selected free of charge.

However, other paintings from the library, which comprises around 30,000 works of art, cost money, either per piece or as an annual subscription. Beyond the classic works, channels such as photographs by National Geographic are available here. Various filters can also be used to display only still lives or pictures of a specific artist.


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Sensors for realistic representation

The Canvia digital art display was also designed to bring a digitized version of famous works of art to life on a digital canvas – and to be as realistic as possible. Using ArtSense technology, the behavior of a physical painting or print is simulated, with built-in sensors detecting the visual environmental conditions. The data collected by the sensors is used to actively adjust the displayed image so that the screen appears light-reflecting – like physical art on real canvas.

The art display was created by Palacio with the help of crowdfunding on Kickstarter and is also connected to an online library of artworks from different genres, eras, cultures, and media. Captions can also be placed over the art shown, allowing users to learn more about the details of the works displayed on the screen.

The cable remains

So you can see, beautiful or even realistic can represent current digital picture frames, at least if the display is anti-reflective and brightness and viewing angle are right. Here some manufacturers are still struggling, as well as with the look and especially the feel of the frames themselves.

In contrast to the high-quality Samsung TVs, which were actually somewhat misused as a digital picture frame, explicit solutions like struggling with the processing, if the price is still to be right. Shaky buttons, poor gesture control, or cheap-looking material can be the result.

Even the integration of the frames sometimes reaches its limits when it comes to the question “Where to put the cable?” However, the outlook is rosy: museums, art, or photo exhibitions, such as National Geographic’s, are learning to appreciate the slowly maturing technology, and integrators are also finding interesting ways to integrate digital picture frames into the experience.