OnePlus showcases concept phone with ‘invisible camera’

Our Bureau Las Vegas | Updated on January 08, 2020 Published on January 08, 2020

OnePlus Concept One   -  Special Arrangement

Concept One is the first attempt to use colour-shifting glass technology on a phone to change transparency

OnePlus participated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020 at Las Vegas with a concept phone, simply known as the OnePlus Concept One.

What is Concept One?

Concept One is the first attempt to use colour-shifting glass technology (electrochromic glass technology) on a phone to change transparency and give the appearance of an “invisible camera.”

OnePlus collaborated with its partner McLaren, the racing and technology brand and creator of luxury, high performance sports cars and supercars, on the concept phone's design, drawing inspiration from the brand’s design and approach.

“This concept phone is a significant experiment into the future form of smartphones. OnePlus started this initiative with the goal of bringing the “burden-less” user experience to the next level. The invisible camera stands as a new form of camera design, one that spares the user from the compromises of current camera layouts. The rear camera lenses are hidden by the dynamic electrochromic glass and only become visible when the camera is in use. This optimal solution is what OnePlus calls “Electronic CMF”—a new approach in industrial design,” said Pete Lau, CEO and Founder of OnePlus. “This is just the beginning as we explore additional possibilities in the future.”

Its features

The glass of the OnePlus Concept One uses organic particles to create changes in transparency so that the glass covering the camera lenses can shift from opaque black to entirely clear. Presenting a clean, unbroken surface when not in use, the “invisible” design makes for a more “burdenless” design. The glass also provides a practical benefit, doubling as a built-in polarising filter for the camera that allows users to achieve sharper, more finely detailed shots under strong light.

The partnership with McLaren has seen the brands release two limited edition devices and is rooted in shared design elements. The OnePlus Concept One draws inspiration from similar technology used in McLaren's 720S Spider luxury sports car, which features a retractable hardtop glazed with an electrochromic glass panel that can rapidly switch between tinted and transparent states. Additionally, the OnePlus Concept One design integrates both glass and leather, using the same luxury trim tailored for McLaren’s supercars, in the iconic McLaren papaya orange - a tribute to McLaren Racing’s history and seen on the current McLaren Racing Formula 1 car.

Although electrochromic glass has already been put to use in some limited applications in cars and planes, miniaturising the technology for use in phones has been the real challenge for OnePlus’s R&D team.

The glass needed to be made particularly thin and light without leaving it fragile. Electrochromic glass is usually composed of two panels of glass with a colour-shifting material in between them. One Plus said that it has managed to achieve something far thinner than the industry average. Here, the glass panels are just 0.1mm each, for a combined total of only 0.35mm, as thin as a display glass protector film. 

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Published on January 08, 2020
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