Sci-Fi movies and TV shows love the whole idea of transparent displays. Judging by how often they use them as props, they seem convinced that “clear” is the wave of the future.
We’ve seen them here and there in real life too. But frankly, I still struggle to “get” this technology. Yes, it looks crazy cool, but how usable is it? I wonder because I tried out its low-tech cousin — the glass dry erase board — in a hipster startup once, and it drove me crazy. All the visual clutter of the people and their activity in the background made it hard to focus on the content on the board. Of course, we could’ve moved it against a white wall, but if we were going to do that, then there was no point in using this expensive thing in the first place. So now the question is, are transparent displays any better?
Maybe so, judging from this concept from NTT DoCoMo and Fujitsu. The companies took a different approach with the clear display: Instead of tackling big, see-through computer monitors, their concept shrinks it for use in handhelds. Now that’s interesting. In fact, this petite version could be the most usable idea yet. The mock-up registers touch input from the front and the back, making it a sort of dual capacitive wonder.
Instead of obscuring the screen by hitting a small button or other feature, you can just touch the backside to register the input. Not only that, but the device can read gestures on both sides simultaneously. Now that’s something that could open up huge possibilities for mobile game developers. So what could a crafty dev do with a new set of controls like that? Check out the video, which illustrates how a digital game of Rubik’s Cube could work on a dual capacitive.
Although it’s not quite ready for prime time — sunlight is a vexing problem, as is the quandary of requiring two hands for operation instead of just one — it’s a very creative take on the technology. And if it ever addresses these pesky issues and comes to market, it has potential to be a game changer, one that could someday reinvent how users interact with their devices.
How do you think clear displays should be used? Are you interested in this new take on touch controls, or are you attached to standard capacitives and want things to remain the same?