Lenovo's transparent laptop display

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/02/28/lenovos-transparent-laptop-display.html


Like the TV this reminds me of a scene from The Marvels when Kamala is looking at a high-tech transparent tablet device from S.H.I.E.L.D. and asking if it’s the new iPad. When she’s told the material it’s displaying is classified she asks “then why is the screen see-through?”


Bored Bugs Bunny GIF by MOODMAN


Why, exactly, do I want to look through the laptop? It’s surely for the benefit of people on the other side: customers, nosey bosses, etc.

and what do they see on their side? the reverse image of gonzo porn with the users attentive image in the middle? …yeah, hard pass


Probably not in the primary workstation, but I can imagine scenarios where architects/designers overlay conceptual over landscapes, buildings, interiors, and so on. Interior directional signage, wall clocks, and other displays that compliment our digital tech is another route it could go.


Fun fact; the thinkpad 755CV! Back, in the Before Times, when overhead projectors designed for transparencies were a thing, there was a thinkpad with a transparent screen so that you could present directly from your laptop without needing a (then ruinously expensive) projector.

As we all know; the core market for high-end panels is people who absolutely hate contrast ratios or have a fear of the dark so crippling that they don’t want a display capable of deep blacks…

If there were more UIs designed to be viewed from the ‘back’ I could more easily buy the ‘collaboration’ angle; but with that not really having been a consideration in UI design you’d probably be better off with just two displays back-to-back showing the same image.

Especially at laptop sizes. Once you get to goggles or TV-and-up displays the amount of the world they block makes transparency more relevant; but laptop displays are small and stick close to the table.


I could see transparent screens for AR overlays in some extremely limited use-cases, like “stand here and look through this screen to see what this ancient ruin might have looked like 3,000 years ago.” But for regular laptops and TVs? I can’t even think of a single scenario where that makes sense.


What, you’re not interested in knowing how much dust has accumulated down the back of your television?


Some enthusiastic techies took the Westworld TV series far too seriously.
I remember thinking at the time that someone would try to reproduce the foldable (tick), transparent (tick) phones, even if they have few to no practical advantages over regular screens.

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Back in 1994, we got an NSF grant to upgrade our computer labs to support a new curriculum we were designing. One of the items we included was a pair of InFocus 7600WS LCD panels. You would plug one into your Sun workstation and put the panel onto the overhead projector, so you could do live demos in class!!! They were $7995 each. We also bought two Tadpole SPARCbooks ($10,950 each), and a bunch of SPARCsystem LX color workstations (16" monitor, 535MB disk, and a whole 24MB of memory). Good times!


employers will loooooove that shit. also;

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I’m convinced the only reason anyone keeps making these transparent displays is because they keep showing up in science fiction. Viewers say, “Oh, neat” without considering that they’re completely useless, and some executives take note and issue directives. Then some long-suffering engineers build the damn things to prove what a dumb idea it is to get those executives off their backs.

They get it.

AR is the only suggested use that makes any sense at all, but the problem is: that’s a better argument for AR goggles, and these laptops have a forward-facing camera for AR, thereby making the utterly impractical transparent screen totally superfluous too.

The other common suggested use for transparent screens (e.g. windscreen displays) - the problem there is that you’re replacing existing displays that work fine with one that is difficult or impossible to read depending what’s behind it and under certain lighting conditions. (And it’s still only readable from certain directions, so you’ve gained nothing.)

The number of tv shows/movies that have transparent displays is amazingly high for something that’s so transparently a bad idea.


Agreed, however, I’m definitely favoring smart glasses with less intense UI over goggles with more immersive experience. I think there is a huge business market the consumer market is missing.

Professional work might be better assisted with interfaces comprising text and vector lines as opposed to full color photographic interactivity, especially for analysis of real world features. Think measurement lines or identification labels.

Even the laptop shown, though seemingly a novelty, might harbor practical applications in fields like healthcare, allowing doctors to analyze a patient in new ways.

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That really depends on the use case. For something you want to easily share, I think this is better than goggles. Enough to warrant its existence though? Not really feeling it.

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A use case for a transparent screen is teleprompting…but these won’t work for that, as presumably the image is visible from the reverse. I should look into a teleprompter through. It’d be good to have a meeting where the webcam was behind the teleprompter at the participants’ eye level, so you could look people in the eye as you speak.

The other use case I could consider is for displays that are often not in use. Rather than have black rectangles taking up desk space and blocking lines of sight, you could have windows that more or less disappear when they’re not needed.

Of course, for a laptop that’s not in use, you just close the lid. So while I can see some potential uses, none that actually apply here.


I’m just using “goggle” a shorthand for any kind of on-your-face display (is there a name for that?).

In which case the non-transparent screen version is still better (you can’t line up AR overlay elements when you don’t know where the viewer is - doubly true with more than one viewer). The forward facing camera is useful, the transparent screen basically has no use cases.

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I was thinking something similar: “tracing” for digital graphics or digital sculpting.

I don’t really know how to do either, though I am hoping to learn. I learned to draw, paint, and sculpt the “old fashioned” way with pen, pencil, brush, paper, clay, and physical tools, so have know idea of the practicality or utility of this use case.

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i don’t know either, but i’d assume a camera with tripod and a window on your screen to display the output would be way more practical. easy to get better angles, zoom, snap multiple views, etc

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Lenovo has finally caught up to the standard



Clicks through… not Muppet related. Damn.

Really, though, every time Gonzo talks about chickens it meets the “I know it when I see it” threshold.

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