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Taiwan's Polytron promises see-through phones

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Taiwanese manufacturer Polytron has showed a prototype of a transparent smartphone and thinks they could reach the market by year's end.

The Taoyuan-based firm, which describes itself as a leading manufacturer of “electronic and optical vision glass”, demoed an almost completely transparent touchscreen device to Mobile Geeks.

Polytron’s makes "Polyvision Privacy Glass", opaque glass that becomes transparent when an electric charge is applied. The glass contains liquid crystal molecules that are randomly oriented when the power is off, at which time any light hitting the glass is scattered. When the switch is flicked, molecules line up and light passes through as it does with any other glass.

The company thinks it can make smartphones clearer, to the eye if not the ear, with another technology that puts microscopic wires into the glass. Those wires could be used to build the necessary electronics into a handset without revealing their presence to the world.

The early prototype device isn't running an operating system but does sport a SIM card, SD card, batteries, microphone, camera and the all-but-invisible wiring.

Given that SIM, SD card, microphone and battery technology are yet to evolve to the point at which they can be made transparent flavours, perhaps the portion of the phone in which they reside will get the Privacy Glass treatment to hide them from view.

Polytron, which is a subsidiary of US architectural film and glass firm Polytronix, is not the only company working on transparent smartphone designs.

Japanese boffns at NTT Docomo and Fujitsu showed off a prototype Android device with a transparent, double-sided touchscreen interface.

To be fair, that product looked a little further on in development than Polytron’s effort, which is still at a very early stage.

However, an ever-optimistic spokesperson for the firm told Mobile Geeks and MIS Asia they would have working prototypes in limited production by the end of the year. ®

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