Patent Shows LG’s Plans for a See-Through Foldable Smartphone

A man examines LG Electronics' double-faced and curved OLED TV during Korea Electronics Show 2016 in Seoul
A man examines LG Electronics' double-faced and curved OLED TV during Korea Electronics Show 2016 in Seoul, South Korea, October 27, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji)

Korean tech company LG is taking the foldable smartphone game into a higher level with a new design. The design, which was discovered through a patent registered under the tech giant's name, shows an exciting design most tech and sci-fi fans will like.

According to Dutch-speaking online tech news website Let's Go Digital, a patent published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows a folding smartphone featuring a largely transparent body.

The patent, titled "Mobile Terminal," reveals details of a foldable smartphone using a "transparent flexible display." While this isn't the first patent for a transparent smartphone, this is the first ever patent for a see-through foldable smartphone.

The unnamed smartphone folds in the middle like a book. When opened like a tablet, one side is fully transparent, while the other side has an opaque portion, likely for the battery. The photos in the patent show the phone is around 75 percent transparent.

Holding the phone at different angles will result in varying levels of transparency. When the smartphone is laid flat, for example, transparency will lower to a minimum, but when the phone is held at a slight angle, users will be able to see right through it.

Front and back touch

The see-through glass isn't just for show. Let's Go Digital notes that when the display transparency is around 20%, a rear touch sensor becomes activated to allow users to point to certain items on-screen from the rear side of the phone.

This means people won't need to position their hands so as to allow the thumb to reach the center of the display, or to hold the device with one hand and touch the display using the other hand. It's very interesting to see how LG works this out.

Technologically capable

The Verge notes that LG is fully capable of realizing this idea, bringing it to life. The Korean smartphone giant has had the idea for years alreadyand might be closer to a working model than most think.

LG Display, a company independent of but working with LG Electronics, has been busy producing transparent displays and rollable OLED screens. These technologies, along with the learning the Korean company has gained from them, will be very important to creating their first ever transparent foldable smartphone.

LG filed the patent more than three years ago, showing the smartphone company's interest in see-through foldable devices, particularly phones. Now that the patent has been approved, will the world see LG succeed in turning it into a real-life device?

Stay tuned for more updates as they come.

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