The glass housing of our smartphones is probably the thing that we protect most but ironically could be the things that we take for granted the most as well. It is an understandable irony though. Because other than being a display to your software contents, protecting the internals of the phone and the electronics that detects your finger touches, it doesn’t do anything else. It basically just sits there gathering fingerprints, grime, oil, and dust. That may not be so in the near future though.
Corning Gorilla Glass is one of the world’s best known glass makers when it comes to smartphone displays. Their technology in glass making has proved to serve the smartphone market well in terms of scratch resistance and fingerprint resistance as well recently. The researchers in the Polytechnique Montreal institute taken the use of glass in smartphones a level further though. How? They simply embed sensors into the glass.
What they do is they install three-dimensional waveguides in to the glass. They do that by etching the waveguides onto the glass using lasers. What these sensor does is track changes in light, and measures temperature. What is unique about the temperature sensor though it measures the way glass deforms under temperature and the amount of light passing through the glass. This sensor is not visible to the naked eye so now it is possible for manufacturers to etch a unique design onto each phone to identify it and make sure that it is unique enough that there are no ‘copycat’ products in the future. Because this is transparent, it is also possible to stack sensors in the glass itself having multiple sensors on one part of the glass.
Despite Corning’s involvement in the experiment and research there is yet word on whether or not this technology will make it to consumer devices any time soon. The Polytechnique Montreal team that are researching and developing this technology though are dedicated to bring this technology to consumers. They said that they are currently on the look out for manufacturers who would be interested in benefiting from the technology.
Sources: Android Central, Engadget, Android Authority