In a surprise announcement, Chinese smartphone brand OnePlus showed off a new concept phone on Monday. Called the OnePlus 8T Concept, the smartphone has electrochromic technology on the rear panel.
But what’s the big deal about electrochromic technology and why OnePlus chose to include this tech in the concept phone?
Designed by OnePlus Gaudi, a team of 39 designers based in India, New York, Shenzhen and Taipei, the OnePlus 8T Concept may seem familiar but it’s different from the existing OnePlus 8T. Well, the concept phone’s rear uses electrochromic materials, which change their colour in response to an applied voltage. That means the applied technology can be used to customise the colour of the back cover of the smartphones, resulting in touchless notifications. Simply put, the electrochromic back could flash different colours for incoming calls or message notifications.
But that’s not all. The OnePlus 8T Concept offers a peek into a new way to interact with smartphones. The phone uses a new mmWave sensor on the back, which monitors a user’s breathing, transforming the phone into some sort of a “biofeedback” device. This is for the first time we’ve seen a mmWave sensor on a smartphone.
OnePlus is keeping mum on when the electrochromic back comes to the company’s other phones. Interestingly, OPPO Reno 5 Pro+ 5G could be the first commercial smartphone with electrochromic technology on the rear panel. The phone is rumoured to launch sometime this week.
OnePlus isn’t new to concept phones. At CES 2020, OnePlus showed a concept phone with electrochromic glass, resulting in the “invisible camera” system. When you need to take a photo, the electrochromic glass will automatically switch into a transparent mode in 0.7 seconds. And once you’re done, the glass will hide the camera modules. Electrochromic glass can be commonly found on planes and expensive sports cars.
The move to showcase concept phones works in favour of brands like OnePlus. Concept smartphones give brands a lot of liberty to show the futuristic technology that might get mainstream in the near future. Like OnePlus, a lot of Chinese brands including Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo have been showing off concept phones lately.