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Qualcomm Puts Its Mirasol Color E-reading Screens to Sleep

The company says it will no longer make or sell the once-promising display technology.
July 23, 2012

Qualcomm has announced that it will no longer manufacture and sell its Mirasol reflective color screen technology. Although a handful of Chinese e-readers come with Mirasol screens (see “Color E-Readers Finally Available to Consumers”), and Qualcomm says it will license the technology to other manufacturers, it seems like the end for this once promising idea.

The pixels in Mirasol displays produce color by acting as imperfect mirrors, tuning the light they reflect to specific wavelengths. The same trick gives hue to the wings of iridescent butterflies and the feathers of peacocks. These screens thereby combine the advantages of a black-and-white e-reader display (low power consumption, and clarity in direct sunlight) with those of a conventional LCD screen (full color and a quick refresh rate). But there is some speculation that the technology proved too difficult for Qualcomm to manufacture reliably enough for the consumer market.

We’ve followed the development of the technology, and Qualcomm’s early efforts to commercialize it extensively in the past (see “New Color Screen Combines Beauty, Readability” and “E-Reader Display Shows Vibrant Color Video”).

Another company working on advanced e-reader screens, Plastic Logic, made a similar announcement  in May this year. So we’ll sadly be forced to choose between two imperfect types of e-reading experiences for a while yet.

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