Taking cues from Chromecast, Sharp turns TVs into art displays

One of the features Sharp had on display at its CES booth looked vaguely familiar: Sharp’s 2015 TVs automatically display a series of works of art and great-looking photos when not in use, which the company is calling “wallpaper mode.”

Sharp has teamed up with cloud art provider ArtKick for this, which gives it access to thousands of classic and contemporary art pieces and photographs that are accessed directly from the cloud. Users can also add their own photos via USB, and a Sharp spokesperson at the booth told me that it only eats up around 40 watts on a typical 4K TV.


Google’s Chromecast streaming stick has of course used similar wallpapers for its Backdrop feature for some time. Sharp’s spokesperson told me that the company actually began to include a small number of photos in its 2014 TVs, and called it “the greatest feature that no one ever talks about.” Instead of leaving a giant black hole in the living room when the TV is not in use, it actually turns it into a great-looking picture frame.

Sharp announced at CES that it is using Google’s Android TV system for some of its new TVs, but the wallpaper mode feature is being included with all models. ArtKick has been around for some time, pitching its product to consumers with Chromecast streaming sticks and Roku boxes, but this appears to be the first time that the company has struck a direct partnership with a TV manufacturer.