The OnePlus Concept One has been attracting attention ever since OnePlus announced the name. This is the first time the Shenzhen-based smartphone maker is showing up at the CES in Las Vegas and to mark the moment, OnePlus is coming up with a concept device to showcase some technologies that may find use in future OnePlus smartphones. OnePlus has already dropped a hint (it’s more than a hint in reality) and the Concept One will showcase a technology that you may have only seen in a Boeing jet.
OnePlus CEO Pete Lau and his boys are calling this technology the ‘invisible camera’ and it is probably what the OnePlus Concept One is all about. From what OnePlus says so far, the technology’s application is quite simple- hide the rear cameras when it’s not in use. It sounds similar to the philosophy of the pop-up mechanism for the front camera where you hide it when you don’t need it. However, unlike the pop-up mechanism, there’s a lot of clever technology behind the invisible camera.
If you are interested in finding out how the invisible camera works, get a cup of coffee and dig in.
OnePlus invisible camera: How it works
The idea behind that invisible camera is simple- hide it when you don’t need it. However, instead of mounting the cameras under a mechanical shutter or any weird tech, OnePlus has gone for a simple electrochromic glass that doesn’t require any moving parts.
The electrochromic glass has been in use on several high-end McLaren supercars and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner jet. What this glass does is it changes the tint of the glass by applying some electricity. The glass contains organic material and when a certain voltage is applied to it, the particles change the tint. Hence, by applying electricity, the tint of the glass can be changed from transparent to translucent. However, achieving opaque is still not possible.
On the OnePlus Concept One, a tiny strip of the electrochromic glass is placed on top of the camera module. When the camera app is opened, voltage is applied to the glass and the camera lenses are visible. When the camera app is closed, the glass changes back to translucent and hides the camera lenses for the most part.
To compare it with everyday stuff, think of this technology as being similar to the monochromatic glasses that change the tint according to the levels of sunlight in the ambience. Only here, instead of sunlight, electricity is used to hide the camera lenses when not in use.
Why did OnePlus do it?
That’s a fair question as nobody has had a problem with smartphone lenses sticking out at the back of the device. In fact, this year, every phone maker, including OnePlus, has been doing massive camera humps that make the lenses prominent.
OnePlus says that it wanted to “boldly challenge the conventional practices of the industry.” The designers at OnePlus have always wanted to achieve an unbroken design at the back of a smartphone and this technology lets them do it. OnePlus says the Concept One is able to maintain a clean and unbroken back cover while simultaneously delivering a premium and unobtrusive hand feel experience to its users.