OnePlus’ latest concept phone is a color-changing, motion-tracking 8T

Image: OnePlus

OnePlus has a new concept phone to show off, which is its way of teasing tech that maybe, just maybe, might make it into one of the company’s future phones. The OnePlus 8T Concept is a similar phone to the OnePlus 8T that was released a couple months ago, but it’s got a pretty unique rear design that changes color alongside a motion-tracking radar module.

According to OnePlus, this color-changing effect is achieved with a film that contains metal oxide, which sits underneath the phone’s glass back and changes color as different voltages are applied to it. At its most basic, it could change color to show off the phone’s notifications, like an incoming phone call, much like the notification light that it has included on its phones in the past. But where things get really interesting is when it gets paired with the concept phone’s rear-mounted radar module.

OnePlus shows how the design on the rear of the phone can change color.
Image: OnePlus

This module, which is built into the camera bump on the back of the phone, uses millimeter wave radar to bounce electromagnetic waves off its surroundings and lets the phone “perceive, image, locate, and track objects.” Although OnePlus says this mmWave technology is “borrowed from 5G,” it adds that the radar module is separate from any mmWave communication module in the phone.

Functionally, it sounds similar to the Pixel 4’s radar-enabled Motion Sense technology, which let you swipe your hand above the phone to skip music tracks or silence alarms. It could also detect your presence to show you the time and any notifications. The functionality was interesting, but Google hasn’t included it in subsequent phones.

This concept phone can also use this motion tracker to do simple things like answering a phone call with a gesture, or offer more advanced functionality like sensing a user’s breathing. This can be combined with its color-changing back to offer some interesting use cases. For example, its back could change color to indicate an incoming call, and then you could accept or reject it with a gesture, without having to touch the phone itself. Or the radar could sense your breathing, and then change its back’s color in time with it, “effectively making the phone a biofeedback device,” OnePlus says.

It’s an ambitious collection of features, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever see them come to a consumer device. After all, a little under a year ago OnePlus was showing off the OnePlus Concept One, an interesting device which used electrochromic glass to make its rear cameras disappear (and which also acted as a pretty neat little ND filter). However, the technology is yet to make an appearance in any of the company’s flagship phones.

As with the Concept One before it, OnePlus says it has no plans to commercially sell the OnePlus 8T Concept, so it’s best thought of as a small showcase of what the company is working on. But with any luck, the technology could yet come to one of its real smartphones one day.

Comments

How bout fart?

This is a Christmas vacation/last week of work kind of comment. Bless you. Hope you’re having a great week.

That would be nice if phone makers were actually doing some useful innovation. I don’t know, like making phones thicker to have better battery, reimplementing the headphone jack, or producing high-end smaller phones?

Making phones thicker for battery or having headphone jack again wouldn’t be much of innovation, it’s just very obvious and basic aspects to change that were also already used and are used even on some devices, nothing innovative.

That’s the joke.
And desire. Sort of.

When you look at something like the iPhone 12 mini, its size (and functionality packed in there) is great, but then it’s size is what requires the battery to be smaller. And while the battery is only perceived as ‘worse’ if you’re coming from a bigger phone, you’d still think twice of sacrificing even more battery to insert a headphone jack

i see it’s time for the word mmWave to be buzzworded to death.

"According to OnePlus, this color-changing effect is achieved with a film that contains metal oxide, which sits underneath the phone’s glass back and changes color as different voltages are applied to it"

Is this the same sort of technology used on some car/plane windows? I flew on a Dreamliner that didn’t have window shutters, you could toggle how opaque the windows gets

No, this is how the Dreamliner electronic shades worked:

After all, a little under a year ago OnePlus was showing off the OnePlus Concept One, an interesting device which used electrochromic glass to make its rear cameras disappear (and which also acted as a pretty neat little ND filter).

I hate the dreamliner windows. You’re supposed to be able to control them yourself but the flight attendants have an override to stop you from looking outside soon after take off, which is the entire reason I get window seats.

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