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I watch a lot of science fiction movies. I read a lot of books that have science fiction elements. I love science fiction because it’s a way to connect our future with something right here and now. More than that, a lot of the things we see in science fiction are created in one way or another into something we can use. Eventually. I think there is still so much we have to create, and science fiction is a way for us to see what that is, long before we ever have it in the real world.

In the past, and now over the years, I’ve scribbled my thoughts down on how I think elements from certain science fiction pieces might integrate into our lives, and asked what you think of the idea. Pulling from things like Minority Report, or more recently the robot-punching movie Real Steel. The implications of your phone helping advertisements react to your presence, or phones that look more futuristic than functional, are all interesting things to talk about. Are we ready for those things now? Or is it better off waiting for several years down the line?

Since late 2012, the bulk of the conversation regarding the mobile industry has been focused around a plateau. We’ve reached a plateau in the hardware department, so it’s up to designers to create the next evolution, if not an out-right revolutionary shift in software. That’s still true, I think. We have reached a plateau, for the most part. And, truth be told, that isn’t a bad thing. That allows for the best part of our smartphones, the software, to start taking more of the limelight. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing what new features our favorite manufacturers have to show off this year.

But, that doesn’t mean the hardware development folks out there are resting on their laurels. Far from it. We all know that there are more people out there than we can count, all working on coming up with the next best piece of hardware for our smartphones. Foldable displays. Maybe a whole phone shoved into a watch (that’d be worth more than $399). These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to consider, to imagine, that we could see some pretty exciting things this year.

Even if it is all tucked away in research and development for now.

One of those ideas, for example, is transparent displays. Anything that we see this year may be new and interesting, but we all know that this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this. These ideas take time to formulate, and even longer to create into something that could someday be functional. Interestingly enough, it looks like at least one company is trying very hard to make anyone’s dream of seeing a transparent phone this year come true.

They’re known as Polytron Technologies, and they are located in Taiwan. As you can see from the image above, they do indeed have a prototype of a fully transparent device. If you watch the video in Alex’s initial report, you can see that they’ve got room for batteries, speakers, and even a microSD card slot. It’s noted that the very top of the phone, where the speaker is, and the bottom where the other internal pieces are located, will be covered by non-transparent pieces, so you don’t have to see those pieces of hardware in every day usage.

So, while the top and bottom will not be transparent for the end user, the mid-section certainly will be. The whole display. You’ll be able to see right through your phone when you’re not busy interacting with it, which presumably would be via a touchscreen surface. All in all, a transparent phone seems like a pretty cool idea.

In theory, at least. I think I’ve completely changed my mind when it comes to this particular piece of science fiction flare. After watching the video of the hands-on time with the prototype, I think I’d much rather see devices with foldable displays, rather than handsets that I can see right through. And, honestly, that has a lot to do with privacy. I don’t want someone standing in front of me to be able to just look at the back of my phone and see who I’m video calling. Or be able to read my text, even if it would be backwards. Or watch the streaming video I’m watching. Because, let’s face it, for the first year that a transparent phone is on the market, that’s exactly what would happen.

People will stare.

But it goes beyond the first year of inclusion with the other “regular” smartphones. I think that privacy issue wouldn’t go anywhere, simply because of the design of the phone. I’d be willing to bet that many, many people would not be willing to give that up, simply to have something as neat as a transparent phone.

Then again, maybe just the idea of owning something as unique as that would make people overlook that particular issue. Or, maybe designers can figure out a way to make it so people can’t see what you’re doing, just by looking at the back of your phone. Anything is possible, right? Of course it is. We’re making transparent phones!

So tell me, are you ready for transparent phones? Are they going to be all the rage in 2014? Or 2015? Would you sacrifice security to have the next coolest thing? Would you choose transparent displays over foldable ones? Let me know.


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44 Reactions to this post

"We're inching closer to transparent phones becoming a reality, but are we ready? Or would you prefer foldable displays be the focus for most manufacturers?"


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Anthony Andrade I would not want one either.
Paul Keefe Just make a phone built into a virtual HUD and I'll be happy
Brandon Moran Why would you lose it? Do people have a hard time keeping track of their clear cases for phones??? If your eyesight REALLY sucks, then maybe.. LOL
Theresa Matthiesen @Arturo Atherly, I found a good prepaid company, I pay $100 less a month for 4 phones than I did with 3. I don't get the most up to date phones, but still good ones. Must balance need and want! :)
Emily Maitz No way
Evan Naumcheff How about neither. No need to show off a useless technology. Keep making phones that are useful!
Chuck Kampschoer I can't find the BLACK one half the time now!
Josef Ruiz Wont it be hard to read stuff in broad daylight with a transparent phone? Talent Trust - Offshore with a difference
Devin Martinez Transparent phones make no sense just easier to lose
Sky Baun stupid
Arturo Atherly TRANSPARENT PHONES???!!! WHOS DUMBASS IDEA IS THAT?? How about we work torwards making these bills cheaper...I mean seriously who r u all kidding...ask the right questions
Naj Khan Who came up with this stupid idea// You been watching too many fantasy films.
Nobel Darwin Estorco Mangaoang A phone as durable as Nokia 3310 would be nice
Kamal Izzuddin Bet you can't see anything during daytime..pfftt!!
Brian Milligan Clear phones what a waste of time. My phone is hard enough to keep track of as it is! A phone that can turn into a tablet, that would be far more useful.
Boris Hodonou Dumbest idea ever!
Curtis Owens foldable is far more important. Clear is worthless unless it can be used for something innovative.
French Twist I want one with perfect voice quality. Seriously. I know, I know, the phone is only part of the equation. But our cells still sound like cells - after all these years. They should start sounding more and more like land lines - since most of us don't use landlines anymore.
Wendy Sheppard Just give me a phone that doesn't break.
Luis Robles Figueroa Foldable Displays... really don't care for transparency phone.
Christy Lynn Then what good would phone protectors be
Michael Walsh I want one now
Christopher D. Rhyne If they want to be innovative they should innovate how long it takes for updates to get from Google to carrier based phones.
Scott Ritchey I Want Transparent.
Derek Lombardi Transparent isnt a good idea.. not for a phone. . Flexible displays may have some future. . Lets get the battery thing sorted first
Luis Vega what we see in science fiction is a taste of what is to come around the corner
Theresa Matthiesen They could make it so when you open up apps it blacks out the back, but IMHO that sort of defeats the purpose of a transparent phone... I would like to see a phone about the size that we have now, So we could use it as a normal size smart phone but that could unfold into a tablet size... Best of both worlds!
Michelle DeRosa transparent phones? Ain't nobody got time for that
Daniel Narvaez Would people on both sides be able to see the screen? I can see situations where that wouldn't be ideal.
Brian Walsh Foldable... Lol like a flip phone?
Chris Clark Never have I looked at my phone and wished it was see through...
Neil Leisenheimer If it ain't broke don't fix it. The current opaque candybar style smartphones are fine.
George Millhouse why do i want to see my hand behind it?
Rudy Belova I would totally lose it on my glass table. In the first 5 minutes..
Collin Linkletter Transparent tech doesn't do it for me.
Joshua Mitchell Translucent
Eric Mitchell Yeah, imagine losing that phone. I'm sure you're not going to be able to cover that with phone insurance.
Elijah Ford "Transparent", hell yeah, bring'em on!!!!, can't wait!!!!.
Brandon Collins either. we just need a revolutionary shift in hardware.
Steve Williams just embed the chip in my head already, geezus
Tyler Saddington Is it so wrong to like the way phone are now? The industry always gets the form right but then goes and changes it :(
Travis Rector I would definitely loose that phone... and I really don't want foldable displays either. I just want a solid phone I can hold, not some flexible phone. Yes, it's innovative, but I just don't find it useful.
Kyle Cordiano Foldable.




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