various transparent gadgets like game consoles, a CD player, and an iMac G3
DesignTechThe '90s

Translucent Tech: Bring Back Those Amazing Clear Craze Gadgets!

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Remember when seemingly every gadget had to be transparent? From phones to computers and portable CD players, the trend of the ‘90s and ‘00s was all about something known as the Clear Craze. And now, it’s making a comeback. Or, at least, that’s the wishful thinking of many millennials with that nostalgic itch.

a transparent corded house phone with neon-colored inner workings

The Rise of Translucent Electronics

Translucent electronics first gained popularity in the ‘90s, not long before Apple released the iMac G3 in blobject form across various translucent colors.

Other translucent devices, such as the Game Boy Color and the Nokia phones, followed. The trend continued into the ‘00s, with the release of the Microsoft Xbox and the GameCube.

Related: The Most Popular ’90s Toys From Beanie Babies to Power Rangers

But why were people so obsessed with translucent electronics? One reason is that they looked cool and futuristic. Another reason is that they allowed users to see the inner workings of their devices. Whatever the reason, the trend of translucent electronics eventually faded away.

A circle of iMac G3 computers showing off 5 colors
Image: Apple

An Appealing Aesthetic

People are drawn to translucent electronics because of their aesthetic appeal. From a design perspective, transparent devices have a futuristic and modern look that many find fun and geeky (in a cool way). The translucent material allows for a unique play of light and color, creating a striking effect that catches the eye.

Related: This Famous Jazz Aesthetic Is Hella ’90s (And Off-Limits)

Additionally, the ability to see the device’s inner workings provides a sense of transparency and honesty that many find refreshing. All these elements combine to create a visually appealing design that draws people in and makes people think about how they work.

Return of the Clear Craze

In recent years, the trend has been making a comeback. Companies like Xiaomi and LG have released their own versions of translucent phones, while companies like Razer have released translucent laptops. Even gaming accessories like keyboards and mice are available in clear designs.

LG bar phone with transparent slide-out keyboard
Image: LG
Nothing brand's transparent cell phone showing the inner workings and lights under the clear case
Image: Nothing

But it’s not just about aesthetics. Translucent electronics also have practical applications. For example, transparent solar cells can create windows that generate electricity, while transparent conductive films can be used in touchscreens and displays.

Translucent electronics are also being used in unconventional places, such as prisons. Clear electronics, like clear televisions and phones, are used in correctional facilities to prevent contraband from being smuggled in. The transparency of these devices allows for easy inspection, making it more difficult for inmates to hide prohibited items.

The Future of Translucent Electronics

As technology advances, we’ll see more innovative uses for transparent gadgets. From transparent wearables to see-through cars, the possibilities are endless. The clear craze of the ‘90s and ‘00s may have faded away, but it’s making a comeback. With its combination of style and functionality, it’s no wonder that translucent electronics are gaining popularity again.

So why not jump on the bandwagon and get yourself a translucent device? Who knows, it might just be the next big thing (again).

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