The Korean LG has been experimenting with transparent displays for several years. For example, at CES 2019 the company showed a transparent OLED TV with a transparency of 40%. The LG also showed a year earlier on SID 2018, a 77-inch flexible and transparent 4K UHD OLED screen. A newly published patent shows that LG is considering applying similar technology to future smartphones.
It is not the first time that we have heard about a transparent smartphone. For example, Sony patented a double-sided transparent smartphone at the end of last year. At LG, however, it is a folding phone that has a large flexible double-sided transparent screen.
Foldable telephone with a transparent display
Today, on April 9, 2019, the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) published a patent from LG Electronics. The patent with the title ‘Mobile Terminal’ was filed more than three years earlier but has only now been approved and published. It is a foldable telephone with a transparent flexible display.
Although we have come across many foldable smartphone models, we have never seen a transparent foldable phone before. It is a very detailed patent, in which the operation and the user interface are mentioned, but also the materials used are described in detail.
The patented smartphone consists almost entirely of the screen. A large flexible screen is used on both the front/back and the inside. The device can be expanded to a tablet format. The phone has narrow screen edges that are all but transparent.
Once folded open, the flexible screen consists of two parts, a left, and a right part. These can independently display transparent or opaque content, the degree of transparency depending on the angle at which the device is held. If the smartphone is flat, the transparency is minimal. As soon as you fold the device a little, the transparency increases and you can look through the screen.
If the transparency of the screen information is higher than 20%, the rear touch sensor is activated. In other words, the user can not only see his own hand through the screen, but it is also possible to operate the smartphone from the rear – no matter how you hold the phone. Madness!
Yet it also sounds a bit cumbersome. Because when a pop-up screen opens (regardless of the application), you have to finish it via the front of the screen. If you operate the device with your finger from the rear, you don’t have to move your hand to the front every time to handle a pop-up screen.
However, the patent still discusses numerous operating options. This allows the user to decide for himself which screen he will see when the device is folded. If you fold the phone closed, you will see the screen that was shown on the right-hand side when unfolded. If you fold the phone close while holding the front and back, the left side of the screen is shown.
The description also goes deeper into the camera system. The rear will have a camera system with multiple lenses. Here, among other things, a laser sensor will be included, which makes detection of a physical object with regard to a 3D stereoscopic image possible.
It is a special innovation. It is of course no longer a secret that LG has a folding phone in development. It is also known that the company develops transparent screens. Yet it is the first time that we have heard about this combination.
Although of course, it sounds fantastic; a transparent foldable telephone, many obstacles will undoubtedly have to be removed before this device can be marketed as a successful end product.
LG has of course already gained some experience with transparent screens, yet it is not just about technology. The user experience will largely determine the success. The technology is one, but to develop a user-friendly and intuitive operation for it will still be a challenge.
Nevertheless, we naturally welcome LG continuing to think and act futuristically. Because now the first foldable smartphones have been officially introduced and the Samsung Galaxy Fold is available in less than one month, the possibilities are open for a new era of cell phones.