Today, OnePlus finally unveiled their first-ever concept phone, the OnePlus Concept One, at CES 2020. The OnePlus Concept One is the first phone ever to use color-shifting glass technology (electrochromic glass technology), giving it an “invisible camera.” The device marks a breakthrough exploration in smartphone CMF (color, material, finish) design and lays the foundation for future smartphones with radically new designs and capabilities.
The glass of the OnePlus Concept One uses organic particles to create changes in transparency so that the glass covering the camera lenses can shift in an instant from opaque black to entirely clear. Presenting a clean, unbroken surface when not in use, the “invisible” design is a manifest example of OnePlus’ “burdenless” design philosophy. This optimal solution is what they call “Electronic CMF”—a new approach in industrial design.
But the glass also provides a practical benefit, doubling as a built-in polarizing filter for the camera that allows users to achieve sharper, more finely detailed shots under strong light.
OnePlus collaborated with their partner McLaren on the concept phone’s design, drawing inspiration from similar technology used in McLaren’s 720S luxury sports car, which features a glass roof panel that can alter its tint and control the amount of light allowed through. Additionally, the OnePlus Concept One design integrates both glass and leather, using the same stylish, premium quality leather specially tailored for McLaren’s own cars.
Jo Lewis, Colour and Materials Design Manager at McLaren Automotive, said of the Concept One:
“At McLaren we select the best quality leathers produced in the UK, Ireland and Scotland. The soft grained semi-aniline leather, is soft to touch, and due to the nature of the natural grain this creates a beautifully silky haptic.Leather exudes luxury therefore was one of aspects of this OnePlus concept device that we were keen to offer our input. Our design at McLaren embraces the natural features of the leather through the subtle grain variation which adds character to each car – making each McLaren completely unique and therefore making this OnePlus concept device follow in a similar unique path.”
Although electrochromic glass has already been put to use in some limited applications in cars and in planes, miniaturizing the technology for use in phones took some extraordinary work on the part of OnePlus’ R&D team.
The Most Advanced Electrochromic Glass Ever Made
One of the outstanding challenges was that the glass needed to be made exceptionally thin and light without leaving it fragile. Electrochromic glass is usually composed of two panels of glass with a color-shifting material in between them. For the OnePlus Concept One, company managed to achieve something far thinner than industry average: the glass panels are just 0.1mm each, for a combined total of only 0.35mm. That’s as thin as a display glass protector film.
Fast Color Shifting – Only 0.7s
For the best, most effortless experience possible, the Concept One’s invisible camera was rigorously tested and calibrated for speed. The OnePlus Concept One takes a mere 0.7s for the glass to transition from solid black to fully clear, faster even than the camera itself takes to fully activate, and it uses almost no power. OnePlus spent nearly eight months and tested more than a hundred different options before settling on the best solution for looks, speed, and power consumption.
Great Feel – No Detail Is Too Small
Our hands are amazingly sensitive to even the most subtle differences in texture, and so a light, comfortable feel is a requisite for every product OnePlus make, including the OnePlus Concept One.
The leather covering across the back of the phone creates a sense of lightness, both visually and tactilely.
With this unique invisible camera, OnePlus aimed at creating an elegant solution to the challenges of camera design in smartphones today. After setting a new benchmark for smartphone displays by creating the industry’s first 90 Hz QHD+ AMOLED display, the OnePlus Concept One now marks one more step into the future of the smartphone industry, and is proof of OnePlus’s commitment and leadership in innovation.
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