Taiwanese tech company Polytron Technologies may have the next leap forward in cell phones, promising a transparent mobile by the end of 2013.
Polytron Technologies has already begun marketing a transparent multi-touch.
The company’s prototype uses what they call Switchable Glass technology. That’s a conductive OLED using liquid crystal molecules to display images.
When the phone is off the molecules align to form a milky composition, but when switched on, they realign to form text, icons, and other images.
Electric current is carried through transparent wires.
“It will happen near the end of 2013. Trust me,” said Polytron general manager Sam Yu.
The device still has some parts that are not transparent, including a SD card and SIM card. The microphone, camera, and batteries are also visible, and will be hidden behind a dark glass cover when the model goes into production.
Sam Yu said the company will develop a smaller lithium ion battery that would be much less noticeable.
When complete, the phone will have a dual-sided multi-touch display in front and back.
The prototype has yet to feature any software or operating system.
Still to be determined is what the market demand for such a device is. Samsung and LG have had large transparent displays for years, but there’s been little effort to make smaller devices.
Tokyoflash recently used a transparent LCD in its Kisai Spider wristwatch but had trouble adding hardware to the smaller frame.
“The challenge of using a transparent display in a wristwatch, and I suppose other wearable technology, is that you need to store the batteries somewhere else (usually they are stored behind the LCD panel),” Tokyoflash marketing manager Paul Cooper wrote in an e-mail.
Polytron’s model will offer much more room to work in hardware.
Also at question is whether transparency by itself will attract buyers, as the prototype doesn’t offer significantly different functions than most smartphones.
“Display quality is paramount,” Avi Greengart, research director at Current Analysis, told The Verge.
“If the display quality is not up to par with the best of today’s AMOLED and LCD screens, a phone using it won’t sell even for its novelty value.”
Sam Yu isn’t worried. He even plans to announce a prototype transparent tablet within the next couple weeks.