The dual-screen smartphone took a leap forward recently with the introduction of the Yotaphone, which has a standard touchscreen on the front, and an e-paper display on the back. While this is an interesting innovation, Samsung has patented technology which will take it to the next level, as its has come up with a transparent screen with front and rear visibility and touch controls.
Discovered in a patent by PatentBolt.com, the phone described would have a single screen, and therefore look similar to today’s phones, but the display would have a degree of transparency. You’d then be able to tap, swipe and control the phone using both sides of the screen, rather than only the front, without having to turn it over.
In a series of images, the possible benefits of this are illustrated. A tap behind a folder of apps would open it up, and icons could be dragged around without your finger obscuring their positions, or even move dedicated top and bottom display items around independently.
Think of how many times fingers get in the way when playing a game, and then imagine controlling the game from the back of the display. A rear tap could also reveal hidden text and options.
Other possible uses show more complicated – and therefore more secure – ways of unlocking your phone, plus video controls being transferred to behind the movie itself. In a way, all this takes away the pain of learning gestures, while increasing the amount of control one has over an operating system or app.
Samsung’s patent isn’t the first time we’ve seen concept smartphones with see-through screens, but it is one of the few with dual-sided controls, and that details exactly how it can be used. Single-sided transparent displays have been a mainstay of tech shows for a few years (as they have been in sci-fi movies too), and Samsung has produced videos outlining how it expects the technology to integrate into products we can buy.
So when will that be? This phone patent was filed during the summer, and doesn’t have any dates attached, but we’re pretty sure it’s not going to be for a few years yet.