Transparent Laptop Display Raises Eyebrows

John Lister's picture

Lenovo has designed a laptop with a see-through display. But it's pretty transparently a gimmick.

The company demonstrated the screen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, an annual trade show where tech companies often unveil their latest ideas for portable gadgets.

The technology behind a transparent display isn't particularly new. Generally they work by blocking or reflecting light to create an image, rather than emitting light as happens with traditional displays that are black when not in use or showing a "blank" image.

The main use of the Lenovo "Project Crystal" display is for augmented reality. This means taking the image which can be seen through the display and then overlaying additional text and graphics.

Purpose Uncertain

That technology is already in use in some devices. For example, several tech companies have experiment with glasses (spectacles) that can overlay information such as walking directions so that people don't have to keep consulting a phone screen.

In some of the demonstrations, the laptop identified objects behind the screen such as a flower and then overlaid information about them.

A common response among people who attended the trade show was that the device was technically impressive but that Lenovo struggled to make a convincing case as to why or how anyone would use it in the real world.

The suggestions it did make were largely about taking existing uses and making them slightly more convenient by having the larger display of a laptop. For example, an architect could point the screen towards a house and instantly see how a design for an extension would look in reality. (Source:

No On-Sale Date

Perhaps because of this lack of an obvious market, Lenovo described it as a concept product only at this stage, with no plans for putting it on sale.

It also didn't have an immediate solution for the most obvious barrier to using this in the real world: anyone facing the "back" of the screen can see the display, albeit somewhat darker and a mirror image. Lenovo would only say it's working on a software solution to this problem. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Why would Lenovo bother making this product? Can you think of a practical use for the technology? Is there any likelihood that the benefits would justify an increased price compared with standard laptops?

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dbrumley3077's picture

I'd have to see this before I could pass an opinion of any value. It does sound interesting, but there is just not enough information here to go on. I was wondering if the entire case of the laptop is transparent? Sounds rather gimmicky as I can't see any practical use for it.