[2009-03-23] I heart transparent electronics

This is not a new idea, and in fact in terms of design trends in electronics it's rather out-of-vogue. Apple pioneered the transparent/translucent case with its iMac G3, first released in 1998, but others quickly caught on. Apple is still at it. Sony, too, is manufacturing LCD monitors with cases that are at least partly transparent.

For my money, though, there's something timeless about transparent cases. It's about user accessibility. Unlike the ubiquitous beige, black, gray, and silver in which most devices and components are available today, a transparent case encourages people to understand what's going on inside their stuff. A transparent device ceases, quite literally, to be a "black box" with inputs converted to outputs by some magical process within. Besides the philosophical implications of transparent cases, transparency has considerable functional value in that it allows for an easy inspection of internal components, and, depending on the particular device in question, there are many faults which can be detected just by visual inspection. Finally there's the aesthetic value: transparent cases look cool and go with any decor. In the case of a PC or other highly customized device, only a clear case really lets you show off all the cool stuff you've got going on inside.

last modified 2009-03-23