LG wants to make transparent OLED TVs a thing at last

LG's transparent OLED tech on display
(Image credit: LG)

South Korean tech company LG Display has recently announced its Q2 earnings. During the call, the company’s CFO also revealed details about what the business will be focusing on in the not-so-distant future, which included gaming and transparent displays.

Although there was only a small mention of plans to diversify into transparent displays, it’s a significant one considering LG has already exhibited some of its exciting transparent OLED TV tech several times in the past.

Most recently, at CES 2023, LG whipped up interest in transparent tech when it revealed the OLED T. Although it's a concept rather than a TV that’ll be entering the market, the OLED T is a TV display with a fully transparent mode and a ‘black mode’, which slides up a black canvas behind it so you can use it as a regular TV screen. 

In Japan and China, LG's transparent screens are already appearing as part of large signs and in subway systems where riders can both see outside the rail cars and get information about their trips on the see-through OLED-covered windows. 

But although this tech is being implemented in some contexts, the idea that we’ll have these sorts of lifestyle displays available in our homes as our primary TV screens has always seemed like science-fiction. Is LG set to change that? 

The LG Shelf transparent OLED concept

The LG Shelf is one of LG's transparent OLED concepts for the home. (Image credit: LG)

What are transparent OLED TVs?

We know that a TV with OLED tech contains pixels that emit their own light and can switch themselves off. This allows the screen to deliver perfect blacks, as well as better image quality, faster response times and reduced power consumption.

Transparent OLED TV works in the same way, but it’s made of only transparent components. This means when the tech inside the substrate is turned off, it can be up to 85% transparent.

It’s not hard to see that there’s a lot of potential for transparent OLED displays. Any window or glass surface could, effectively, be turned into a screen to display information, advertisements or entertainment. 

This same thinking applies inside your home, too. A window could become a TV and vice versa. That big bulky TV that looks like an eyesore in your living room could easily become a window or just an unobtrusive pane of glass when you’re not using it.

Although we’ve already seen transparent screens in certain environments – like on transport systems – LG clearly has bold plans to bring these displays to lifestyle applications that wouldn’t look out of place in our homes.

For example, back at CES 2022, LG showcased its transparent screen tech in several weird and exciting ways. One included a concept called OLED Shelf, two 55-inch transparent OLED panels which hang from a wall shelf, which could hold your Elf on a Shelf, too

The company also demonstrated Show Window, which incorporated a transparent panel into a meeting room window, allowing for a clear view of the outside world while displaying videos and touchscreen elements. 

It’s still early days for transparent OLED technology, but we’re excited to see how it develops over the coming years and how it will compare to the best LG TVs.

Becca Caddy

Becca is a contributor to TechRadar, a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than ten years, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality.