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Transparent smartphone prototype is clearly cool

Polytron shows off a see-through smartphone, but the limitations of modern technology still stand in the way.

Your future smartphone? Screenshot by Christopher MacManus/CNET

Many smartphones look the same from afar. I bet most of you own one that's thin, rectangular, and features a big screen. Boooring!

A fully transparent conceptual smartphone, developed by Taiwanese company Polytron Technologies, gives me hope for a future full of fancy smartphones far different from the common designs seen today.

Mobile Geeks had a chance to personally preview Polytron's impressive see-through smart-glass gizmo, but it's worth noting that the current version can't make calls (yet) and isn't fully transparent due to limitations with modern technology.

As evidenced in the below preview video, several internal items such as the SIM card, SD card, and microphone can be clearly seen. As Polytron moves toward a more complete device, the company plans to shift many of those visible components to an opaquely shaded area at the bottom while hiding other items, such as the camera, with darker glass.

That's not the complete story, though. Due to Polytron's Switchable Glass technology (based on Polyvision), the entire phone may appear opaque when not in use, and clear when powered on.

Polytron perhaps explains the now-you-see-it/now-you-don't display technology best: "When the power is off, the liquid crystal molecules are randomly oriented [way] that scatters incident light and the screen becomes opaque. When electricity is applied, the liquid crystal molecules line up, the incident light passes through, and the screen looks clear."

Polytron plans to assemble working prototypes of the transparent smartphone and even move toward limited production by the end of the year, according to Mobile Geeks.