Transparent tablets may seem like a futuristic concept, but the idea isn’t as far off as you may think. Meet Grippity, an Android tablet with a transparent display that lets you interact with the slate from both the front and the back.
The tablet we demoed at CES 2014 was a rough prototype of what Grippity will be like when it launches for $249 near the end of 2014. The slate features a 7-inch semi-transparent 1024 x 600-pixel touchscreen display, although about one quarter of this screen is opaque for easier viewing.
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Grippity is powered by a quad-core Cortex A9 processor with 1GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of internal storage expandable to 32GB via microSD. The final build will also come with IR blaster for use as a universal remote.
Jacob Eichbaum, the creator behind Grippity, says that this rear-touch technology is designed to make it easier and more comfortable to interact with the tablet. Rather than having to peck an on-screen keyboard, users could hold the tablet as they normally would while reading without having to switch hand positions. The prototype we saw, however, wasn’t functional enough for smooth and accurate backside typing.
The translucent tablet sports backside illumination and 10-point multi touch rear controls. However, when trying to type by tapping the tablet's back, Grippity usually picked up the wrong letters. We could easily see our fingers through the screen as we tried to type, but creating words and messages proved a challenge because the backside touch sensors weren’t very accurate.
We also tried playing “Angry Birds” with Grippity’s 10-point backside touch controls, but the rear touch panel didn’t pick up our gestures. The front part of the tablet worked much more fluidly during our demo.
Grippity’s transparent display is one of several design characteristics that make it look much different than the traditional tablet. Just above the touchscreen, you’ll find two virtual knobs that serve as touch-sensitive joysticks for gaming. We’re told that when the product launches, users will be able to flip the tablet upside down with the joysticks at the bottom for easier gaming.
Overall, the Grippity concept is intriguing. Holding a tablet from its sides while touching the back does feel more natural than poking at the screen, But this device will have to work much better than the prototype to be practical enough for everyday use. We'd also like to see a higher-resolution display.