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TR: How are Pixel Qi displays different from typical displays?

MLJ: We’ve got new screens based on the same ideas as the OLPC screens. Importantly, there are no manufacturing changes, and no material changes [compared with traditional LCD displays]; we’re using the same manufacturing process and following the same design rules. But what you can do that’s interesting when you change the design is produce sunlight-readable screens and super-color saturation. You can get really great reflective screens that rival e-paper at really amazing price points and with fantastic ultra-low-power capabilities. These displays have 1 percent of the power consumption of a regular screen by using a reflector behind the LCD grid to reflect ambient light and allowing the backlight to be turned down in bright environments. Plus, you can implement a power-management system used in OLPC [that refreshes the screen only when it changes] that saves you even more. We’ve done this by reinventing the display based on understanding the details of factories and how they work. All of these things work, and we are shipping them next year.

TR: Which products will they be in?

MLJ: We can’t announce our customers or products yet, but you’ll see these displays in low-power laptops.

TR: How do you see display technology developing over the next two years?

MLJ: I see an improvement in the readability of screens. The number-one reason why people print a page is resolution, and the number-two reason is that they don’t want to stare into a flashlight. Ultimately, in a year or two, we’d like to have a lawyer’s monitor or an editor’s monitor–some readable screen that’s just for reading. When I started meeting kids in the developing world and seeing that their schools were outside, we saw the opportunity to make screens more readable in sunlight. It’s ironic that the poorest kids in the world are getting the best screen technology through OLPC, but soon the rich people in the rest of the world are going to have access to it too.

TR: And beyond that?

MLJ: We have a road map that goes out pretty far. I mean, we can make improvements in all sorts of screens. Take the iPhone [touch] display. It’s actually two screens. One’s a touch screen and one’s a display screen. Why don’t we use the layers in the screen itself to do touch? It solves problems of alignment and lowers cost. We are following trends and watching how they evolve, and the great thing is that we can design a screen and have something that’s reliable that we can ship in about a year. We can actually do it in that kind of time frame.

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Credit: Pixel Qi

Tagged: Computing, Business, displays, LCD, OLPC

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