Lenovo Unveils World’s First Laptop with Transparent MicroLED Display: Project Crystal

The Project Crystal by Lenovo is a unique, futuristic device that bears a striking resemblance to something from a sci-fi film. The laptop, purportedly the world’s first to feature a transparent microLED display, is currently not intended for retail sale. Instead, the device was conceptualized by Lenovo’s ThinkPad division to explore the possibilities of transparent microLED panels combined with AI.

One potential application of this technology is in environments where data needs to be shared, such as a doctor’s office or hotel front desk. Instead of physically manipulating the screen for viewability, the display could simply be reversed digitally, enabling clarity for anyone on the other side while also receiving comprehensive explanation.

According to Lenovo, another exciting application could be the integration of AR technology. This could involve using the camera to identify items in a manner akin to Google Lens, then extending this concept by superimposing a diagram or schematic on the object for trouble-shooting or repair purposes through the transparent display.

Even though microLED displays are usually high cost and reserved for the most advanced technologies, such as Samsung’s The Wall or Apple’s Vision Pro, Lenovo deserves commendation for even conceiving Project Crystal. Actual transparent versions have only previously been seen as prototypes, like the transparent microLED TV showcased by Samsung at CES 2024.

The impressive transparency effect of the display, which can light up instantaneously to a brightness of up to 3,000 nits, is somewhat mystifying. Despite its thinness, the panel is composed of multiple layers which contribute to a seamless integration between the digital and analog worlds. Lenovo is also contemplating adding a contrast layer that could render the display opaque with the press of a button. Negatively, the device’s resolution isn’t excessively high, and close inspection can reveal individual pixels.

Interestingly, instead of a regular keyboard, Project Crystal includes a touch-based replacement reminiscent of older Yoga Books. Unfortunately, it maintains several of the same issues, such as a lack of tactile feedback leading to decreased accuracy. Lenovo believes this could be rectified by AI learning a user’s typing patterns and counteracting hand movement away from the home row, but it remains an issue for now.

Unquestionably emerging technology, the laptop still requires substantial tweaking. It doesn’t contain many ports, relies on an older CPU, has a weak hinge, and seemed to amass a static charge that occasionally shocked users.

Despite being a solution still looking for its problem, Project Crystal is prompting us to ponder the potential of advanced display technology and how it may be incorporated into future laptops. For the latest news from MWC 2024, stay tuned!