The talk in 2012 may have been all about flexible smartphones. But, this year, a technology company has gone one better and is promising a see-through gizmo.
While it may sound like the perfect gadget for Griffin, the hero of H.G. Wells’ science fiction novel The Invisible Man, which was first published in 1897, the firm behind the new technology says it is firmly grounded in reality.
Polytron Technologies, which is based in Taiwan, says it has made a giant leap forward in smartphone possibilities and says a new transparent mobile will be available by the end of this year.
The firm has developed a prototype which uses something it is calling Switchable Glass technology – a conductive OLED which uses liquid crystal molecules to display images. Polytron already has a huge history of working with smart, or switchable glass, and is now looking to apply this knowledge in new, innovative ways.
When you have the phone switched off, the molecules come together to make a somewhat milky composition but when you turn it on, they form text, icons and other images. Even the wires which transport electric currents are see-through.
And, amazing as it may sound, Polytron Technologies general manager Sam Yu says development will definitely be complete by the end of this year. “It will happen near the end of 2013,” he said, adding: “Trust me.”
Not all of the phones parts can be made see-through though. The SD card and SIM card are still visible along with the microphone, camera and batteries. They will be hidden behind dark glass when the new gadget goes into commercial production.
The firm is also working on development of a smaller lithium battery that will be less noticeable when the phone hits the shelves.
Revealed by phone site Mobile Geeks, the smartphone will have a dual-sided multi-touch display on the front and back. Although, what it does not yet have is any software or an operating system.
It remains to be seen whether the new device sparks a bidding war between the likes of Apple and Samsung. But Yu is certainly confident and even has plans to reveal a prototype transparent tablet within the next fortnight or so.
Analysts, however, say Polytron Technologies has a way to go before it convinces consumers that a transparent phone will be the next big thing as novelty value alone will not be enough to sell such a gizmo.
And some forum users have already criticised the idea for being too old school. “Not another transparent tech fad,” said one. “We had enough of this in the 90s with see-through keyboards, mice and gameboys.” Another simply said: “I have difficulty finding my phone in my handbag as it is. I wouldn’t buy one.”
But Mobile Geeks said: “For all of you naysayers out there who complain about not being able to find your phone, let alone being able to find a transparent phone, I ask would you ever let such a beauty leave your hand?”