There are probably three holy grails of mobile devices: a foldable phone/tablet hybrid, a flexible/deformable device, and a transparent tablet. One of those has more or less become a reality but the other two have yet to even see a prototype. That’s not stopping companies from filing patents left and right in a race to “reserve” ideas for future use and it seems that LG has just been granted one of the most ambitious one of all, a foldable device that is almost all transparent screen.
LG actually applied for this patent in late 2015, long before we’ve even seen prototypes of foldable devices. But while foldable phones and tablets are all the rage, LG dared to dream even bigger and made its foldable device all screen, front and back, both transparent as well.
There are, of course, design and engineering problems to consider in this idea, least of which is the foldable screen itself. For one, it will nearly be impossible to have everything be transparent, as you will need opaque space for components like batteries, cameras, and boards. The patent does indeed hint that at least one side has a non-transparent section reserved for that.
LG’s patent also has a particular quirk that both sides of the device are actually touch-sensitive. Meaning, when the screens are completely transparent (or at least translucent) you will be able to operate it with hour hand from the back. That could make for pretty complicated interactions and accidental presses.
With today’s hardware and software, transparent mobile devices seem to be more of a novelty than a practical design. It’s the future that sci-fi paints, but most sci-fi shows don’t have to consider actual everyday use. Then again, it took three years for LG to be granted this patent so despite having rollable and translucent displays already, it’s going to take even longer to turn this into reality.