Ebook readers, digital photoframes, and richly-featured touch-screen phones abound. Mini-notebook computers – netbooks – are growing rapidly in adoption. It's not just about big-iron computing anymore.
Pixel Qi has a belief on the future of the computing - it's not about the CPU or the OS - It is about the screen.
New classes of thin-client devices will increasingly lack complex motherboards and operating systems. We are already in a world of $10 CPUs, next year they will be less expensive. We see the future of the portable electronics as simply the display - with embedded electronics eventually right in the display glass itself. This is the future laptop, the future cell phone and the future PDA. Instead of focusing on higher speed (more MHz) and larger memory (more GBytes), we work toward new device designs by focusing on displays that we can read, as easily as paper - indoors and out - with battery life measured in days not hours.
We embrace the reality that your gmail, flickr photos, chat sessions and you-tube videos are downloaded on the fly already. Of course, some solid state memory is needed, and wireless access, but a bulky OS and bulky application software just aren't needed. A display that includes an integrated multi-touch screen in the same layers that turn on and off the pixels of the screen means that we can have multi-touch for an incremental cost increase over the display screen itself. Maybe for less than $1US.
The display is the most expensive component in a modern laptop, and the most power hungry, and it's uncomfortable to read when compared with paper. We aim to fix this – our team already took the first step with the OLPC screen. The battery is the second most expensive component in the laptop or portable. We propose to massively lower the power consumption of the screen and thus also slash the cost of the battery and dramatically boost how long your machine can run on it before you have re-charge it.
We will do all of this while making LCD screens lower cost, higher resolution, easier to read and sunlight readable. We've already shown the first step of this at One Laptop per Child by creating a display that is 5X the resolution, 1/3 the cost, 1/10th the power consumption. In addition the One Laptop per Child screen is sunlight readable, and it enables one to the turn the motherboard and CPU off while the screen stays on - offering further massive power savings. We plan to take this much further.
We aren't doing this the traditional way - we aren't planning to invent new molecules, spend 100's of millions of dollars or even billions to build brand new manufacturing facilities, hype it and then deliver maybe in 10 to 20 years. We are embracing a practice commonly used by the Silicon integrated circuit industry. We are designing our new screens to fit into existing LCD manufacturing processes, with existing materials, already available at the screen manufacturers in extremely high volume with excellent pricing, quality, and reliability. Our changes are conceptual and fast. We are devising new ways to use existing manufacturing processing to create new screens with radical new performance. The screen in the OLPC laptop was our first example. It went from specification to mass-production ready, fully passing all quality and reliability testing in 6 months. 6 months! It's unheard of in the display industry.
The first of our new generation of screens will emerge later in 2009: we promise exciting things for notebook computers – and much more.
Pixel Qi's 3Qi LCD screen sized up with Kindle, CTO sheds light on your questions.
There's a lot of fascinating tidbits here, including some talk on the nature of the display and laptop industries. As it stands, mass production begins this Fall, and even though you're seeing that Acer logo on the demo unit, Jepsen says it's just a prototype built into a laptop they bought at Radio Shack and that no manufacturing partners have been confirmed. Make sure the closest star isn't beaming down at your screen and head on after the break for the both videos.
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