Inspired by the Lewis Carroll's novel 'Alice through the Looking Glass,' designer Yasmin Sethi developed a chess set that features pieces that "magically turn transparent" when they touch the board. In other words, when removed from the playing surface, a pawn would be opaque—nearly indistinguishable from any other piece on the board. However, when in contact with the board, the piece reveals its true identity. This effect serves to remind the player that the pieces have no value unless they are in play.
The effect works thanks to a board made out of a glass material with embedded LEDs (LightPoints) and chess pieces made from clear glass with the negative shape of a traditional, delicate Staunton chess piece enclosed within it. Placing the chess piece on the board completes a circuit that illuminates the negative shapes, making them visible. There is even a clever nod to a passage in the book where the White Knight talks about being able to think better when he is upside down. In the Alice chess set, all of the white knights on the board will not illuminate unless placed in the upside down position. All-in-all, the 'Alice' concept is interesting new twist on the traditional game. With any luck, a real world product will come down the line sometime in the future. [Project Page via Pan-Dan via DVICE]