Mirasol display is readable in sunlight, coming in 2011

Ronald caught this in yesterday’s Shortbread, but it deserves a little extra love, even if that comes with a twinge of disappointment. It looks like Qualcomm’s promising Mirasol display technology won’t be arriving late this year as originally planned. Instead, it’ll pop up early next year, which means we could see devices on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

In development for six years, Mirasol is a reflective display type that uses Interferometric Modulation (IMOD) technology to generate images that are viewable in a variety of lighting conditions, including direct sunlight. Mirasol displays are said to have low power consumption and be fast enough to handle video playback, making them intriguing for e-readers, tablets, and other devices that might be brought outside. This whitepaper (PDF) provides a good overview of the technology, which looks very promising indeed.

As someone contemplating a tablet purchase, I’m tempted to wait and see what Mirasol has to offer. Tablets seem best suited for web surfing and media consumption, both of which I’d like to enjoy while out in the yard on a sunny afternoon.

Comments closed
    • sigher
    • 9 years ago

    Talking of displays, I saw on some site that benq has some new monitors out with PVA panels but with improved capabilities (refresh rate and viewing angle) and interestingly for the same pricepoint as TN panels.
    I am thinking this might be the first of a deluge of monitors with PVA panels for cheap if they found a way to make them cheap and capable.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    So…. the pixels that look “black” do so because they push the reflected light up above the visible range, into the near-UV. Thus when the panel is displaying an entirely black image, it becomes a UV mirror (or, actually, a bit more than a mirror since it is boosting all the impinging visible light up into the UV, though obviously at lower intensity). I’m going to assume they’ve thought this through and put a UV filter in the top layer of the panel. Otherwise you’ve just put yourself in front of a low-grade tanning lamp, with all the implications for eye and skin health (and, more importantly, the fears and lawsuits that engenders).

      • sigher
      • 9 years ago

      A simple note in the manual should suffice methinks, it’s no different than being near open water or snow really.

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        Well, technically it is different, since it is shifting impinging visible light into the ultraviolet, so (unlike most natural mirrors you might encounter) it may actually be producing more UV than you get from any other ambient source (other than the sun). Of course you don’t get something for nothing: by boosting the frequency you lose intensity, so the net result may be too little to matter. And yeah, some boilerplate leagaleeze on a sticker and in the manual will probably be sufficient to cover themselves. But given the hysteria in some quarters about cell phones, microwave ovens, and powerlines, anyone producing anything that radiates any kind of EMR has to at least consider it.

    • Anonymous Hamster
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder why they can’t seem to display red very well (at least, not in most of the other screen shots I see of it).

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Don’t know that that’s true, and I don’t know why it would be if it is, but I could speculate (that’s what the internet is for, right?)

      Red is the longest wavelength and (equivalently) the least energetic of the visible colors. Since the display uses constructive/deconstructive interference to produce the various colors, it could be that there’s a natural fall-off in intensity towards the lower frequencies that shows up strongest in the reds.

      And since it relies on reflecting ambient light, the quality (ie spectral distribution) of the light in the room is going to have a pretty big impact (especially since your eyes and brain adjust to whatever “cast” the lights impart to everything) — office lighting is typically “whiter” (less red, more blue) than residential lighting (more yellowish-orange). You likely will have a different opinion of this display under incandescents, fluorescents, or daylight.

      Or it could be an artifact of the photos (the CMOS sensors used in cameras don’t have a perfectly flat spectral response either) that you wouldn’t notice in real life (or you would, but quickly got used to).

      I guess we’ll just have to see. If it really is a problem, they may already have plans to mitigate it. Since the displays will include some kind of frontlight/sidelight for reading in the dark, it’s possible you’ll be able to adjust the color distribution of the display somewhat by fiddling with that (at the expense of running the light all the time).

    • willyolio
    • 9 years ago

    is the resolution/colour gamut enough for a camera’s viewfinder? that’s one electronic device i use outdoors all the time…

    • liquidsquid
    • 9 years ago

    Whoa, this will be huge for outdoor handheld devices. Not to mention e-Readers.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Huh. I remember reading about this a while back (probably “3 to 5 years” ago) and then forgetting about it .

    That whitepaper is horribly written, but it does get the general idea across. I wonder what aspect of the tech is giving them the most trouble / causing the slip?

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    They had to delay it so they could figure out a way to add enormous amounts of gloss.

      • UberGerbil
      • 9 years ago

      Heh. Never count out the “ooh, shiny!” types to eff up something good.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    What are these “sunny afternoons” you speak of?

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 9 years ago

      I was wondering that too

      /looking out the window to gloomy skies

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Reading the zoomed-in pixels correctly, the article pictured is the Bloodhound Supersonic.

    §[< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloodhound_SSC<]§ In case anyone's interested.

      • SomeOtherGeek
      • 9 years ago

      I was, thanks!

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    wait, it is good enough to work for E-ink and displays color?? That’d rock cause it’d make my field guides viable on an e-reader (they use lots of color coded maps)…oh man that’d rock. No carrying 4-5 field guides around for an area.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    out in the yard, you should be enjoying nature, not sitting on your fat ass looking at a 9′ screen. geez geoff.

      • Sargent Duck
      • 9 years ago

      Set up my hammock and have a nice nap enjoying the weather. Perfect.

      • Dissonance
      • 9 years ago

      I suppose it didn’t occur to you that I’d like to be able to enjoy web surfing and the outdoors at the same time. Or would you rather folks do all their web surfing inside and treat the outdoors as some technology-free zone?

      Oh, and this fat ass did an 11:34 Ironman this year.

        • UberGerbil
        • 9 years ago

        You did an 11:34 ironman while websurfing?

          • 5150
          • 9 years ago

          I think he’s talking about those nice Timex watches.

            • Dissonance
            • 9 years ago

            Well… I did wear one during the race. Sadly, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi, so no web surfing for me. The display is quite readable in direct sunlight, though.

            • 5150
            • 9 years ago

            Dude, don’t be that guy that wears an Ironman watch to an Ironman competition.

        • BiffStroganoffsky
        • 9 years ago

        Was that on Xbox or PS3?

          • UberGerbil
          • 9 years ago

          Clearly it was on a PSP, DS, or (most likely) an iPhone. He was /[

            • BiffStroganoffsky
            • 9 years ago

            Well, I knew it wasn’t the iPad…better chance of the Xbox or PS3 working outside. 😮

      • Kurotetsu
      • 9 years ago

      +1

      Though maybe you could’ve been a tad bit gentler in your choice of words. ;p

      • wira020
      • 9 years ago

      Well, nowadays I see a lot of kids with some type of electronic device outdoor… be it nintendo ds or psp or smartphone.. seriously, times changed..

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Judging by the TR BBQ pics, I agree!

      /hidesg{<.<}g

        • 5150
        • 9 years ago

        Go drink your soy milk ya damn hippie.

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          Had it just before my tofu salad for lunch, thanks Montana Fly Fisherman IT Guyg{

          • Jigar
          • 9 years ago

          Go get a nap.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    I think this has huge potential for smartphones, vehicle displays, etc…

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This