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Displays Hardware Technology

Samsung Develops a Transparent OLED Laptop Screen 148

Dyne09 writes "The Design blog has posted an entry on Samsung's new laptop with a transparent OLED screen. The photos show a dark-tinted and dimly-lit screen that is fully see-through. While the utility of a see-through laptop probably isn't that high for the average user, several medical and industrial industries could greatly augment design work or frame 3-D models over real life in real-time."
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Samsung Develops a Transparent OLED Laptop Screen

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  • by Karganeth ( 1017580 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @02:59PM (#30708802)
    However, sticking it on a laptop is.
    • True. Sony Ericsson has done it with XPERIA Pureness, not sure what the screen is though.
    • Ian McKellen (Number 2) had a laptop with a see-through screen in AMC's version of The Prisoner.
      I only remember it from one scene; I am unsure in which of the six episodes (no pun intended) it appeared.
      It looked cool, and I've wanted one ever since.

      Apparently, I can now get one.
      However, I am sure that it won't be a slick as Number 2's.

    • 1995 calling... (Score:5, Informative)

      by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @04:10PM (#30709310) Journal
      IBM ThinkPad 755CV had a transparent LCD display (VGA resolution) around 1995. It could be detached from the laptop, and placed on an overhead projector, for making PowerlessPointless-style presentations. This was in the days before projectors were common.
      • But the OLED has its own built-in light source, so no backlight is needed for direct-viewing in the dark. Isn't that the big deal here?
    • Tablet technology? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SEWilco ( 27983 )
      Maybe a laptop with this screen could operate as a tablet when the lid is closed.
  • Realistic Uses (Score:4, Interesting)

    by teeks99 ( 849132 ) * on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:00PM (#30708806) Homepage

    I had two ideas come to mind on ways to use this technology (laptop screens don't really seem like a killer feature).

    - Glasses. It would be great to get a screen on the lenses of my sunglasses, most of the time they'd be clear like normal, but info could pop up throughout the day as needed. Or I could sit back and watch a video, and just turn it off if I needed to see something.

    - 3D Displays. If one would take many layers of this together, it would be possible to create a 3D display a couple inches deep that would be able to be viewed without any need for glasses. It would be quite limited to the amount of depth available, but even a small amount could be revolutionary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It would be great to get a screen on the lenses of my sunglasses

      Uh? Move your face next to your screen as close as you wear sunglasses. Do you see anything? Your eyes just can't focus on a screen this close. For this to work you need retinal projection, not a screen.

      • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:43PM (#30709126)

        Do I see anything? Yes, I'm THAT damned nearsighted, you insensitive clod!

    • by Sepodati ( 746220 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:14PM (#30708886) Homepage

      How about using this on a hybrid laptop/tablet? Instead of having an mechanical swivel for the screen that can break, just have a transparent screen like this. Open it up and it's a laptop. Shut the laptop and the screen mirrors so it's a tablet now. This is assuming you could get the outside (or back of) the screen to have touch capabilities.


      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by maxume ( 22995 )

        If prices continue to drop, the same thing could be implemented using two screens (I guess the exterior screen would have other semi-useful applications when the laptop was open).

        Personally, I think thin and cheap are a much bigger deal for OLEDs than semi-transparency.

      • I guess that's fine if you like looking at the keyboard behind your screen, and whatever is behind you when in laptop mode.

      • good idea. I don' know if a screen can be transparent and touch-enabled at the same time though ?

      • I want my whole fridge door to be made out of one, with touch screen. I don't really know why though, maybe I could kick my fridge over on its side and watch wide screen movies...

    • This isn't good for glasses. First problem is the focus issue as another person mentioned, but also the fact that everyone else would be able to see what is being displayed. Do you really want your girlfriend to know you only knew it was her birthday because of the reminder that flashed on your glasses?

      Displays that project onto semi-reflective glasses are better on both counts.

    • also (Score:3, Insightful)

      by snarkh ( 118018 )

      Car windows, particularly the windshield.

      • yep (Score:4, Funny)

        by itomato ( 91092 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:57PM (#30709226)

        Heads-up display, much like the system used in Cadillacs. []

        viewing a map with turn by turn superimposed over the windshield would be killer app

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by serutan ( 259622 )

        That's a great idea. Adding an information display to something that needs to be transparent, like a car windshield, seems like a much better application than making something transparent that shouldn't be, like a laptop screen. I'm surprised Samsung didn't learn anything from the public's reaction to transparent GUI windows. They're kind of cool as a novelty for about 5 minutes, but nobody really wants to use them.

      • A police car could see the status of cars as they drive past (speeding / stolen).

        or a radar like in Grand Theft Auto?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      Combine both into 3d glasses, you give the 3d showing slightly different screen for each eye, Add augmented reality to the mix and you'll have an explosive cocktail. And you can add exrta features like vision enhancement (ok, for that dont need to be transparent, just project camera vision as background) to be able to use them if you are shortsighted
      • A few threads above the problem of focusing optics is mentioned. If you have optics to focus your eye on the screen, you cannot see normally. If the point is simply to have 3D glasses, how is this any different than what we have now?

    • Glasses. It would be great to get a screen on the lenses of my sunglasses, most of the time they'd be clear like normal, but info could pop up throughout the day as needed. Or I could sit back and watch a video, and just turn it off if I needed to see something.

      The problem is that the glasses are so close to your eye that you wouldn't be able to focus on anything displayed on them, and even if you could, the rest of the world would be out of focus as you shifted your focal length so close to your eyes.


    • by blhack ( 921171 )

      Substitute sunglasses with motorcycle helmet.

    • The only realistic use that I can think of is finally building a working version of Ed's computer from Cowboy Bebop. []

      And trust me, I've had the SketchUp diagrams for 3 years, waiting for this.

    • - Glasses

      - 3D Displays

      Next: stack them together and wear them as glasses

  • by Anonymous Coward

    there certainly is some geek coolness in having a transparent display on a laptop, although I question the usefulness of it; particularly when one is playing back pr0n on said laptop.

  • Like meseums, trade shows etc etc, it would really pull people arround them despite only being able to read properly from the one side. Countless movies and TV shows have transparent screens in high tech work places, it's all good as long as it's not too bad on the eyes if it's to be worked with a lot, or if any private data ever needs to be shown it's useless.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Yeah, CSI is going to be able to save some on their special effects budget. Other than that, it's kind of tough to think of an actual application. The summary makes some pretty fuzzy suggestions, but they don't really seem realistic.

  • I can't see much use for an overlay unless there is a fixed viewpoint or the display is only used for information that does not need to be synced with what is behind it. Move your head a few centimeters and it'd throw it all askew.

    The other problem I see with this, as someone mentioned glasses is the focal distance. The heads up displays and wearable computers, etc, that I've seen used mirrors and optics to achieve a further distance than trying to focus on the lens of your glasses.

    • Problem solved. []
      • That's impressive!

        Unfortunately it only applies to one person and must still be some distance away. While the head tracking and perspective changes shown can certainly be applied to some products, it's still very limited imo. This screen is transparent and I wonder about the possible applications as you can't set the focal distance. [] A young eye apparently takes 350ms to refocus, I can't say I'd want to use something like this even with head tracking for an

  • screen watches you

    -1 Cliche

  • ... Is make it a touch screen and shrink the components to a "hand size" grip along the side.


    Like a few others suggested; Stick it in a high end luxuary car's windscreen, no need for the driver to move his eyes from the road to see readouts.
    (Obligitory M$ joke follows!) Just don't let the car windscreen run windows or the phrase "Blue screen of death" might take on a more perminent meaning.... ^_^
    • by kybred ( 795293 )

      Like a few others suggested; Stick it in a high end luxuary car's windscreen, no need for the driver to move his eyes from the road to see readouts.

      I don't that would work very well. Current HUDs [] use an optical system to allow the generate imagery to be focused at infinity, that way the pilot/driver doesn't have to refocus between the outside world and the generated image.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's translucent. It if were transparent then it would be clear, instead it's like a dark tinted piece of glass which isn't that easy to see through if you ask me.

    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:24PM (#30708968)

      It's translucent. It if were transparent then it would be clear, instead it's like a dark tinted piece of glass which isn't that easy to see through if you ask me.

      No, translucency prevents seeing details through the medium, such as the glass you'd use in a bathroom window which allows light to pass through but scatters the photons preventing seeing detail. Transparency is a sliding scale, which can allow various levels of light through or even only certain wavelengths (colors) from 100% clear transparent to nearly opaque.

    • It if were transparent then it would be clear

      Transparent means the objects behind the glass are in focus, which they are in this case.

      The amount of light the glass lets through is a separate consideration from the transparency/translucency distinction.

    • It's translucent. It if were transparent then it would be clear, instead it's like a dark tinted piece of glass which isn't that easy to see through if you ask me.

      It was supposed to be transparent, but if you look at the demo you'll see they're running Windows - Internet Explorer doesn't correctly handle opacity.

      Yes, it's a CSS joke about a CES product...

  • Looks like screens in Avatar!

  • Nook2 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eightball ( 88525 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:25PM (#30708980) Journal

    Instead of having LED below the e-ink, put it on top of the e-ink. With no current applied to either, you see the e-ink. When you need to use the faster more colorful tech, make the e-ink whitish and turn on the OLED.

    • by forand ( 530402 )
      This would cause glare since the OLED will need to have something to protect it thus negating the benefits of the e-ink.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It is too dim to have a purely reflective technology at the back. The OLED is only 40% transparent, any light bouncing off the e-ink has to pass through the OLED twice (once from the light source to the e-ink, and once form the e-ink to the viewer). At the end you only have 16% of the light being reflected, minus whatever the e-ink absorbs. The reflections of the top of the OLED will be brighter than the displayed information from the e-ink.

    • by Jezza ( 39441 )

      It's only 40% transparent - the effect would be to render the e-ink unreadable (or near unreadable). While I think it's fantastically cool, I can't think of a single good use for the technology. I can think of a couple of bad ones:

      Make it a touch screen, and put it on the door of your microwave oven - now you don't need the panel to the side... still need to put that volume somewhere (that's where the "guts of the microwave are").

      Did I say a couple? I meant one - really weak idea. But yeah it's cool.

      For a l

  • Greasy smudges on *both* sides of the screen.
  • I would actually like to see something like this overlaying the e-ink screen on an e-reader. The LCD would make taking notes, browsing the web, and possibly even watching videos possible for short periods, and when not in use, the e-ink screen would still save on battery life.
  • Samsung's new laptop with a transparent OLED screen

    And there was much feline rejoicing.

    However, on the issue of privacy, can people on the other side of the screen also see what you have displayed?

    Then again, could it be also be used as a tablet without having to flip the screen?

    • by Jezza ( 39441 )

      I guess you could make a oneway mirror... but really, WHY?!

      • by shawb ( 16347 )
        One way mirror wouldn't really work... those require the obscured side to be in relative darkness. Basically, a one way mirror simply reflects enough light that the images of objects behind it are washed out. An OLED screen would put out enough light to be visible.
        • by Jezza ( 39441 )

          I guess. Probably still be a lot harder to read though... Still seems like a transparent display isn't very practical, even if it is cool.

  • Two thoughts. . . (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:31PM (#30709036)

    This could change the game for small tablets; you could hold the tablet on either side and use your fingers behind the screen to manipulate images without obstructing your view of them.

    I've seen variations of such a solution which artificially create a 'finger' effect through graphics with the touch pad on the back of the device, but this would be the real thing.


    Also. . .

    People are obviously worried about the privacy factor of see-through computer screens, but I could see this being considered a huge plus in the evil corporate work environment; the drones would only be allowed to use laptops where the backside is a window to the front. A lot less Facebook and Farmville would eat into company time that way. Or at least, this may be how the pointy-haired dictator might think when placing bulk-orders for laptops.


  • I wouldn't mind having my vehicle gauges and GPS moved onto my windshield. Additionally, it would be nice to play movies on it too (in park of course) since my car has a reasonable surround sound system and soundproofing.
    • by ZosX ( 517789 )

      lots of possibilities. displays mounted sunglasses are out, but displays on windows, windshields, helmet visors, etc are all possible. Imagine if your windows had a temperature reading in the corner. People would like that sort of thing. Heck why not make a whole window an interactive display of some sort (just no touchscreen please).

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      You might not like it so much when it started to get dark and you effectively couldn't take off your sunglasses.

  • Minority Report? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:39PM (#30709100)

    If you combine this with Wii-type motion control, I think you have the photo/video system from Minority Report.

  • From the article:
    "Samsung presents world's first and largest transparent OLED laptop at CES"

    If it's the world's first, it's just as much the world's largest as the world's smallest transparent OLED laptop, as well as the brightest and most-dim, the sharpest and most-blurry, etc...
    • I could be wrong, but I believe the sentence you're trying to tear apart meant two different things:

      (1) This is the world's first transparent OLED laptop.

      (2) This is the world's largest transparent OLED laptop.

      If interpreted that way, it makes sense.
  • yo dawg... (Score:3, Funny)

    by ZosX ( 517789 ) <.zosxavius. .at.> on Saturday January 09, 2010 @03:47PM (#30709164) Homepage

    I heard you like windows so I made a window that you can display windows with while running windows, so you can have windows in your window.

  • If this is low power enough, you could theoretically use this for the tinting in vehicle windows/windshields or even homes; make it a graduated but adjustable auto-tint that works on how much and/or what wavelengths of light sensors detect entering the cabin or room. The best part is, when you leave your car in the sun, instead of having to struggle with a clumsy sun screen that only protects one window, one button press blocks all the windows, keeping the cabin relatively cool by the time you return.
    • Photoelectrochromic windows and the like have been around for quite awhile. Using OLED's for that effect would be pointless IMO. Wrong tool for the job.

    • Photoelectrochromic windows and the like have been around for quite awhile. Using OLED's for that effect would be pointless IMO. Wrong tool for the job.

      How would that work? OLEDs emit light, they don't block light.

      Hrmmm... New idea! If these can be put on a flexible transparent screen, programmable t-shirts! Create and upload your own graphics! Even animations! Next step, programmable, & touch-interactive clothing...

  • you are playing Left 4 Dead and suddenly you see your mother in law appear among the zombies.
  • A great application would be for medical ultra-sound visualisation. The latest scanners can generate 3D surfaces which can be viewed on a monitor. There was some experimentation with combining LCD screens with mirrors so that a cross-section view from the sensor could be superimposed on top of the location of the actual sensor.

    Imagine if a doctor could slide this screen around a patient and motion sensors could pick up the location of the screen and transform the data from a MRI/CAT scan into a matching pro

  • by ( 745855 ) on Saturday January 09, 2010 @04:00PM (#30709240) Homepage


  • Augmented reality glasses!

    Mark my words! :)

  • Back when overhead projectors were the dominant method of displaying information before a large audience (y'know the ones you put clear sheets of plastic on and wrote with a marker), before powerpoint and before projectors that connected to your VGA port. IBM came out with the Thinkpad 755CV [] in which you could remove the backcover of the screen and then place the screen over the light on your overhead projector.

    A snap-off screen panel gives the new ThinkPad 755CV the ability to "piggyback" atop many types

  • These things have been out for years. Check out all the pictures people have taken of their laptops with transparent displays []! Most are 100% transparency as well.
    • by marciot ( 598356 )

      You do realize that most of those are photography tricks where someone has set their desktop backgrounds to be a photo of the background and taken the a picture from just the right angle?

  • Advertising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zogger ( 617870 )

    They'll wind up using this for advertising. Instead of regular "dumb" windows in stores they will all be "smart windows" with changeable ads, visible from both sides of the glass.

  • I tried a beta version of this display with compiz and my windows set to transparent, and I almost blew my mind. Almost.

  • One good use that could result from a technology like this would be screen-embedded cameras for video conferencing.

    Anyone who has ever VC-ed with someone before knows that the experience is severely lacking for one important reason: eye contact. Even with a modern built-in camera just a half inch above the screen, it is obvious that the person you are talking to you is looking at their screen and not you. In my opinion, this is show stopper, and it really makes the experience no better than a phone conversa

  • This would be awesome for augmented reality in a hand held device. If you could make it so you could look through it to your surroundings, and overlay useful information. The tricky part would be tracking where the user's eyes were relative to the device so you could properly position the overlay.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll