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The Magic Behind Scoble’s Prediction of an All Glass, Transparent iPhone 8

January 6, 2017

Robert Scoble made a major meme with his claim that the iPhone 8 was all glass and you could see right through it. And how great it would be for AR. It certainly blew my mind when he first told me about it. A transparent iPhone? WTF?!

I literally couldn’t believe it. I thought it was impossible to create using today’s electronic components. Impossible!

Robert’s see-though iPhone 8 claim went viral spawning many long discussion threads debating the possibility of this amazing dream coming true. It’s the 10th anniversary of the iPhone and everyone expects Apple to mark it by introducing a truly innovative phone (for a change).

The press quickly grabbed hold of this monster meme and almost every article about the upcoming iPhone 8 included Robert’s claim that it was made of glass and that you could see right through it.

Robert’s insistence created a puzzle I just had to solve.

Finally, I think I have. Oh the joy of solving a puzzle! Well, more precisely, I think I have. I definitely don’t mind being proven wrong… that’s what a hypothesis is all about! So here goes…

Robert was right, that the iPhone 8 will be made of glass. It just isn’t transparent glass, it’s an all-new glass casing design that connects the glass on the back of the phone to the front display. Cool design (even if it looks a bit fragile). Yes, the iPhone 8 is made of glass.

And guess what? You can see right through it! Yes, you can!

But it’s really a magic trick.

The iPhone 8 concept design that I think is most accurate shows a beautiful display that covers the entire front of the phone… edge to edge, top to bottom.

Nice! Apple is taking more cues from Android and has finally dropped the stupid physical home button that squeezed the display into a much smaller frame. And based on the designs I’ve seen it looks like they’ve done a better job than any Android phone I’ve seen so far in terms of maximum display coverage.

Now, here comes the magic. Take that fantastic edge to edge screen, and connect it to what everyone expects will be more than one advanced and innovative camera. The software running the cameras understands the geometry of the surface of the iPhone 8, the display characteristics, the fixed positions of its display, the exact specs for the cameras, and the lenses being used.

This allows the iPhone 8 to pull off a very impressive illusion.

The iPhone 8’s precise knowledge of the cameras and phone (and perhaps a spatial map of what’s in front of it) all collude to make the image displayed on the screen to look exactly like what you would see if the phone was pointed at something.

Abracadabra! The camera magic allows the iPhone 8 to be pointed at almost anything, and have it look like it’s practically invisible. It’s a small rectangular portal to an AR view of the world around you.

Can the AR-focused iPhone 8 compete with dedicated AR glasses? What other magic does 2017 have hidden up its sleeves?

“Everything in this world is magic, except to the magician.” –Westworld