Apple’s next iPhone may have cameras, fingerprint, iris sensors and solar cells hidden from view via clever trick

You know that Apple really cares about the design of its products? Well, that’s probably an understatement. And the new iPhone is a thing of beauty, right?


But there’s this one annoying little thing that prevents Apple to achieve the perfection – a uniform surface slab ideally shaped for your hand… The various components that emit or capture the light. Like camera, proximity/infrared sensors, flash, display. You have to leave those annoying transparent holes for the light to get through. And it must be driving Jony Ive mad.

But maybe not for long. Apple has an idea how to hide every component that is not in use from the surface of your iPhone. It’s called polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window.

PDLC window is a layer that can change its opacity when electric current is applied. It can be color matched to the surface of your device with all light emitting and receiving parts hidden behind it, so there are no annoying sensor holes on your iPhone’s front and back. Then, when you press an icon, PDLC window becomes transparent and camera with flash, or fingerprint sensor shows up where you need them.

If you really want to – even your iPhone’s display can be hidden behind PDLC layer, so the only way you can tell between the front and back of your device is the home button or some other decoration.

Apple is also thinking ahead about the things they could do with PDLC windows when transparent display technology becomes good enough for mainstream gadgets. There will be no need to find extra space to cram a front camera, fingerprint or iris sensor, or even a few solar cells on a body of the device. Just shove them behind the display, put a PDLC window on top and you are done.

Your iPhone can read fingerprints when you are sliding to unlock, and you’ll just look into your display for iris identification when you are shopping on the go. While recharging your gadget via solar cells hidden behind the screen.

Well, enough with the fun. Time for the usual caveats.

This is just a patent application, so there’s a good chance that PDLC window equipped iPhone or iPod touch will never see the light of day. And, speaking of your iPhone’s back – that uniform surface, disappearing camera magic trick would have been much easier with iPhone 4S back of glass. Now that Apple’s gone all aluminum on us, I’m not even sure it’s possible.

But one can dream a bit, sometimes.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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