Transparent displays are currently a hot ticket item in mobile devices. Recent pictures of a transparent screen iPhone and iPad have created huge internet buzz about the potential of such items. The response has been positive and there appears to be high demand for the devices. Unfortunately for anyone who wants a see through iPhone, it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.
The recently released pictures are part of a phenomenon known as “design fiction.” Design fiction are drawings or videos that give the viewer an illusion of a product. Designers create more than just the look of a product. The designers also conceptualize the functionality of these fantasy products, for example, showing the viewer how a display could switch between transparent and nontransparent viewing modes. However, these fantastical creations are probably not destined for mainstream adoption, even if they were to become a reality within the next several years.
While a transparent phone or tablet may seem like an amazing device, the concept has a long way to go before it would be practicable for the majority of users. As currently designed, the majority of the space within a smartphone or tablet is occupied by the battery that powers the device. As most users want a reasonable length of battery life for their tablet or phone, a transparent display would be impractical, as the battery would have to be small enough to fit somewhere at the edge of the device in order to allow for transparency. Additionally, a transparent phone screen would result in lower image quality. Image quality is another feature that most users are simply not willing to sacrifice.
While transparent phones and tablets may not be in widespread use anytime in the near future, other forms of transparent technology will be used, and are even currently on the market. Samsung has developed transparent display products, such as the Smart Window, which can be used to display an image in a window, which could be installed your home or office. Transparent displays can effectively turn any already transparent item, such as windows, display cases, or even eyewear, into a computer screen. So while transparent mobile devices may stay in the realm of design fiction for now, other transparent screens have already moved from fantasy to reality.