Ah, the transparent smartphone. It's been a fantasy of Android fans since the beginning of time. Imagine being able to hold up your smartphone and see imagery layered over reality, much like in this commercial. Today, it looks like we're one step closer to the dream becoming a reality.
A concept phone by the Taiwan-based Polytron Technologies features a dual-sided multi-touch glass display that looks truly out-of-this-world.
The phone uses something called Switchable Glass technology – an OLED display that uses liquid crystal molecules to display images. When powered off, the display looks cloudy, but when the electrical currents begin flowing (through transparent wires, 'notch), they can form imagery.
Translucent displays have already been created by big-name manufacturers like Samsung, but in their case, the displays were used to fit over a much larger glass, like a window (check out the Smart Window Samsung prototyped at CES here). Until now, translucent displays haven't made much of an appearance on smartphones, likely because there's less room for non-translucent components like, say, batteries.
Samsung's Smart Window at CES 2012
Even if Polytron is able to create a fully-functioning smartphone prototype, the company still faces significant hurdles to bringing their smartphone to the market. For one, it's debatable whether consumers will buy a smartphone with a display that's much dimmer and less vivid than a Super AMOLED display. It also remains to be seen whether a translucent display like this could accurately portray darker tones and blacks. You wouldn't want to have to hold your translucent smartphone against a dark background just to be able to see anything.
However, despite the significant challenges, I'm still hopeful about the prospects. Imagine reading an article on a transparent tablet while walking down the street; you wouldn't even need to wonder what the pavement looked like under your feet. The applications for augmented reality are insane.