Samsung patents rear touch control for future devices with transparent displays

by: Shawn IngramDecember 4, 2013

Samsung transparent display patent

Samsung was recently granted a patent for a smartphone with a transparent display with both front and back-touch.

The Samsung patent takes display technology beyond flexible displays and into the realm of science-fiction by putting a see-through display on a smartphone. The patent describes several ways that users might interact with a smartphone with a transparent display, which fluctuate between a replacement for the AirView feature of the Galaxy Note 3 and the back-touch features of the PlayStation Vita.

Many of the uses of the transparent display outlined in the patent seem to solve the problem of having a finger obscure parts of the screen when interacting with the phone. For example, when opening a folder on a current smartphone you have to move your finger out of the way to view every app in the folder. With a transparent display, however, users can open a folder by touching it from behind, making all icons easy to see with no fingers in the way.

The feature is very similar to AirView on the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy S4 which lets users view the contents of folders by hovering their stylus or finger just above the screen. The back-touch can also reveal text hidden in a menu similar to AirView in the Samsung Email app in the aforementioned phones.

Also outlined in the patent is the ability to interact with two overlapping elements at once. Users can move the top element using the touchscreen as normal, and move the bottom element using the back-touch on the transparent display. This same feature is possible on PlayStation Vita games thanks to the touch panel on the back of the handheld. On the Vita it’s sometimes difficult to know exactly where you’re touching on the touchpad, but with a transparent display it should be easier to know exactly where you’re tapping at any time.

A patent on transparent displays doesn’t mean Samsung intends to release devices with those displays any time soon. A transparent display would also require transparent electronics inside the phone, which may make the implementation difficult. For now it seems the most innovative display technology Samsung is ready to talk about is the flexible display in the Samsung Galaxy Round.

Do you think a transparent display is feasible any time soon? Would you buy a phone with such a display?

  • Tuấn Ankh

    I like the idea, but I would rather have porn shown on only one side of the device. However, a device with such technology won’t come anytime soon, so everything is still good.

  • Christian Harris

    Well, it may take developers some time to add support for the back display. I have a PS Vita and nearly 80% of the games that are available for it hardly use the back panel. I actually find it rather annoying when I’m scrolling on a website and the page suddenly jerks up because I left my finger on the back panel. Granted, most apps allow you to turn it on and off, but it is still a pain in the arse to have that happen.

    I know im off topic, but it really annoys me.

    • mmcc

      No one use PS Vita. That’s why no one bother with it LOL

      • Christian Harris

        Lol, well for the millions that do it’s really annoying to have it there. Although I do think by the time Samsung makes this it will already be standard around the whole board.

  • asdf

    wow samsung is working really hard to make that flexible transparent tablet concept of theirs come to life… sadly, as cool and futuristic as it is, i think it would only be a niche product. On the upside, that smart window concept someone posted is pretty freaking awesome :)

    • Shark Bait

      I think it will be awesome. The first versions will be nieche, like the round, but being to fold your tablet into your phone will be awesome !!

  • Neuro192

    Just imagine how fragile those phones are going to be. I’d not put the one in my pocket, because it’ll just break in a half there.

  • MrRudeDog

    Is that a little Apple with holes and a worm, the second icon at the top?
    Hahahaha, Samsung trolling about…

  • nightlink

    Now, let’s see, where I’m supposed to have grip on the phone ?

    Smaller bezel, touch screen at both front and rear, next will be kungfu training to hold your phone with just 2 fingers.

    • Jason Yuen

      Don’t forget about Apple’s patent on buttonless buttons on the side of the device. If that goes mainstream then you got a phone you can’t touch. If that happens, Steve Jobs will reincarnate just to tell the world again that they’re holding it wrong.

  • sffed

    How the hell must companies come up with innovative and good ideas if people are such parent trolls!!

  • Alejandro Gaydou

    You could have the whole screen be transparent, so long as the rest of the hardware fits inside the bezels on the sides and on top and bottom where the speaker and microphone would be. But, we’ll have to wait awhile before they have the tech to pack the battery, radios et al into such small spaces and still have a day-long lasting smartphone that actually works as a phone…

  • madmills92

    Why has nobody yet imagined the battery needed for this , most high-end devices struggle to make it throughout a single day , with one screen.

  • titart

    This writer must be a top tech noob. Transparent screen don’t actually need transparent “motherboard or battery”. It just need the product designers & engineers to figure out the best placement of those components. Yes, this phone may looks different in shape or proportion from the current phone. But, it’s a beginning for a new product line. Think outside the box, your mum recommend it ;)