Next Big Thing – transparent gadgets

See-through tech is on the way. Followed by a gadget to help you find your gadgets

Does anyone need their fortune told while texting?

Admittedly, the benefits of transparent tech aren't universal, but boffins at Stanford University have developed a see-through lithium-ion battery, the same sort found in phones, MP3 players, cameras and laptops. It's not entirely clear – but the cell's mesh-like framework is too small to see with the human eye.

And we need this because...?

Need is a strong word. These are gadgets – they're supposed to be wanted. Imagine a tablet that looked like a sheet of glass until you fired up the screen. Even on, it could produce an interactive layer for your computer or TV screen. And who hasn't been walked into by some zombie ambling down the street engrossed in composing a text message? The applications for camera design are a bit unsavoury, admittedly.

Shall we move on to the improbable expense?

Good save. And good news, too. Yi Cui, our Stanford professor of battery transparency, reckons they'll cost around the same as conventional lithium-ion cells. So it might not be too long until we see something like the Apple iPhone concept you see above. Cui has his sights set just as high – first on his list to talk to about slotting see-through batteries into mobiles: Steve Jobs.

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