Oneplus 8T Concept Is a Prototype Phone With a Colour-Changing Rear Panel: Here’s How It Works

The OnePlus 8T Concept relies on ECMF and mmWave to deliver a whole new interactive smartphone design.

OnePlus 8T Concept smartphone

Even when not launching new smartphones, OnePlus surely likes to keep itself busy. The latest to come out of the company’s industrial design team is not a smartphone that money can buy. It’s a new smartphone prototype called the OnePlus 8T Concept. One, that can change the colour of the rear glass based on someone’s breathing patterns, gestures, or an incoming notification.

Sounds cool? Here’s how it works –

Using ECMF+mmWave Module for a brand new smartphone design

You can’t buy the OnePlus 8T Concept. It’s a prototype that’s being showased to demonstrate another use-case of the same ECMF technology that the company showcased with the OnePlus Concept One at CES 2020, the one with the disappearing cameras.

ECMF, or Electronic Colour Material Finish works with colour-changing film that sits under the glass to dynamically change the colour of the glass through user or software input. For this OnePlus 8T Concept, the ECMF contains metal oxide in the glass where the valence state of the metal ions vary under different voltages. Activating the metal oxide through an input changes the colour of glass from dark blue to light silver.

This input is provided by the mmWave module located within the camera module, to detect miliimeter-level movements in its field of view to trigger an action from the rear panel. The mmWave module generates electromagnetic waves with a wavelength of 1-10 millimeters to detect minute movements in its vicinity. This is different from a mmWave receiver used in high-end 5G smartphones, but the inherent technology is similar. While OnePlus is using it to capture movements, 5G modems use it to capture 5G signals.

The smartphone itself is a regular OnePlus 8T, but etched with a pattern inspired from the multi-hued flowing water in the hot springs of Pamukkale, Turkey. A combination of 39 designers situated out of Shenzhen, Taipei, New York and India that comprise the OnePlus Gaudi industrial design team, has conceptualised and designed this concept smartphone. It’s also the team that made the previous OnePlus Concept One while designing the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. And while this isn’t going on sale anytime soon, OnePlus may take cues from the technology in a future offering.

OnePlus 8T Concept use cases

OnePlus said using the electromagnetic film on the OnePlus Concept One was a discovery and a ‘beautiful accident’, and the OnePlus 8T Concept refines that technology with the help of a mmWave sensor.

As of now, the technology is only used to change the colours of the rear glass from silver to blue based on how a person is breathing (by detecting millimeter-level movement of the chest), and when there’s a new notification. It even registers gestures like double-tap on the back of the phone to change colour, thus opening up a wide range of possibilities of how people interact with a smartphone beyond the touchscreen. But there can be so much more than can be done using this tech. OnePlus is calling it Reactive Sensing and it might just be the hottest thing in the next few years, if this technology takes off.

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