Could electrochromic glass be the next big thing in 2020?

OnePlus will reveal its first-ever concept phone at its CES debut next week. As part of the presentation, it is set to share details of its electrochromic glass concept. Could this feature become a staple in phone technology?
OnePlus Concept
The OnePlus Concept One will use electrochromic glass to support its camera lenses. Photo: OnePlus

What is electrochromic glass?

Often dubbed as smart glass, this panel tints when light, voltage or heat is applied to it. The glass switches from transparent to translucent and vice versa depending on the temperature or light within the environment.

This sort of technology is often implemented for commercial use due to its light and heat blocking capabilities. Aircraft are increasingly holding passenger windows with these panels due to the overwhelming presence of sunlight in the sky.

Furthermore, skyscrapers with large windows also put this technology to good use. Ultimately, the glass can block the sun to stop disturbance from strong rays.

Electrochromic 787 Windows
Electrochromic glass is often found within the window frames of Boeing 787 Dreamliners Photo: Jun Seita via Wikimedia Commons

Put to new use

However, we could see these materials find their way onto our smart devices down the line. The glass that is being conceptualized on the OnePlus Concept One uses organic particles to create several tints when presented to an electrical field.

This color-shifting glass covers the rear camera lenses behind a clean glass panel. This will then enable the lenses to be revealed only when they are in use.

Within a post on the OnePlus website, CEO Pete Lau spoke about how his company is continuing to find ways to deliver features such as this glass. He hopes that by cultivating this dynamic material, the Concept One will be able to hold a clean and undamaged back cover. Meanwhile, phones with this technology will be able to maintain a premium and unhindered hand-feel experience for their owners.

“Since day one, we have been designing flagship products based on a ‘Burdenless’ philosophy, aiming to deliver premium products that empower people in the most natural and comfortable fashion,” Lau said within the post.

“The OnePlus Concept One encompasses this idea by using electrochromic glass, a color-shifting glass, to cloak the rear camera lenses behind a clean glass body and reveal them only when they’re in use.”

A cleaner process

OnePlus highlighted that this technology is what is used is used on McLaren 720 automobiles. Perhaps, the company got inspired to implement this glass following previous partnerships with McLaren such as with the OnePlus 7T Pro Mclaren Edition.

Altogether, this technology could enable a clean and seamless process for camera lenses to be exposed when needed. High-quality camera capabilities are at the forefront of the demands set by mobile phone users in the current age. Therefore it wouldn’t be a surprise to see manufacturers introduce this initiative during this decade.

We will no doubt find out more information regarding this concept at CES 2020. We will make sure to report on any announcements from the show from when it begins today.

What are your thoughts on implementing electrochromic glass within the features of a phone’s camera? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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