When it comes to display technologies nothing says "cool" like a transparent display. While we've seen a number of prototypes, such as TDK's flexible OLED display, pop up at trade shows in the last couple of years, Samsung has announced it has already started mass production of a 22-inch transparent LCD panel. Because they rely on ambient light instead of the usual back lighting, the transparent panels consume 90 percent less electricity than conventional LCD panels. But despite the fact the new panels are starting to roll off the Samsung production lines, it will probably still be a while before transparent panels make it onto our desktops.

Samsung is producing two varieties of transparent LCD panels – a black and white and a color version. Both boast a contrast ratio of 500:1 and resolution of 1680 x 1050 (WSXGA), with the black and white model sporting what Samsung says is the world's best transparency rate of over 20 percent and the color model claiming a transparency rate of over 15 percent. This compares to the five percent transparency rate of conventional LCD panels. Both panels also incorporate HDMI and USB interfaces.

No doubt reflecting the expected high price of the transparent panels – and possibly while the boffins at Samsung rack their brains for possible everyday home and office applications – Samsung is touting the possibilities for the panels for use in advertising in shop windows and outdoor billboards. It also says corporations and schools could put the panels to use as an interactive communication device.

Unfortunately there's still no word on when the prototype transparent AMOLED displays Samsung was showing off at CES 2011 will get the same mass-production treatment.

Even though the applications for home/office users may be limited, these things just look so cool we can't help wanting one. So if anyone can come up with a good use for the technology in the Gizmag offices, please let us know in the comments because we'd love to have an excuse to snap one up when they drop in price.