The Xiaomi Mi TV LUX is set to become the world’s first mass-produced transparent TV. But how does one go about making a TV transparent? The company detailed the process and Step 1 is obvious – take everything that normally goes behind the screen and move it somewhere else.
All the electronics and sound hardware were moved to the round stand at the bottom of the TV. This made the components more cramped than usual, so Xiaomi had to take special care when designing the cooling. The chipset has a heat sink and the whole base is dotted with vents to help with convective cooling.
Both LCD and OLED displays can be made transparent. However, Xiaomi picked OLED since it doesn’t need a backlight while a transparent LCD TV would have needed an external light. But even an OLED isn’t naturally transparent.
The RGBW matrix has a unique design where only half of panel is covered with pixels, the other half is left transparent. The pixels are fine enough that you can’t see them at a normal viewing distance and the gaps between them are equally tiny, so you can’t see them either – it all merges into a seemingly normal sheet of glass.
The image below compares a traditional OLED panel with the one used on the LUX TV. The sub-pixels are on the right, the area on the left is transparent.
To protect the panel, a 55” piece of glass is bonded to the display using UV-curable glue. Then, a thin metal frame runs the perimeter of the glass to give it rigidity.
While you may not want a transparent TV at home (even though it looks cool), the race is on to put selfie cameras behind the screen on smartphones. There have been prototypes, but their image quality left much to be desired – making displays see through is not an easy task.
Previously, Xiaomi explained that the high pixel density of mobile displays is an obstacle. It would be interesting to see if the experience gained from designing a transparent TV would help the company resolve that issue.