Just when the Amazon Kindle was lording it over other ebook readers, another breakthrough in ereader technology comes — it’s called the Mirasol display.
Mirasol is a display technology that is based on interferometric modulator displays (IMODs). This is a type of microelectromechanical system (MEMS). MEMs use a tiny mobile reflective surface to change the state of the colors. Every pixel is addressed individually much like an LCD works. It not only adds color to the ereading experience, it also extends the battery life of the device and reduces environmental impact.
Ebook readers are taking flight this year with high popularity, so it is no wonder that companies are competing for the next best technology. Mirasol may replace the grayscale e-ink displays with vibrant color and even replace the LCD which uses color filters and backlighting.
The technology mimics nature using the same principle as the one that enables iridescent beauty seen on pearls, soap bubbles, peacock feathers and butterfly wings. Incoming light is manipulated and reflects the color pixel by pixel.
Qualcomm is the owner of this new technology, and they claim that it will last 18% longer than e-ink. It depends on what the owner is using the device for: ereading, audio playback and/or even video playback. Mirasol doesn’t require extra lighting and can be used under direct sunlight. In fact, the Mirasol display becomes more vibrant when ambient light is present.
Mirasol saves energy in 2 ways:
1. A Mirasol display uses microscopic mirrors to reflect ambient light. There is no need for a backlight, or any other source of lighting which is typically a huge energy drain on current devices.
2. A Mirasol display doesn’t continually refresh like LCD’s due to its bistability. This allows near-zero power usage in times where the image is unchanged.
Not only will this technology improve ereaders, but also other handheld gadgets such as MP3 players and cell phones. Qualcomm and LG Electronics Inc. are teaming up to begin the development of Mirasol gadgets. If the Mirasol technology hits the market, it could be a fierce competitor for the iPad which has an LCD display.
Qualcomm demonstrated the Mirasol display at CES 2010. The company won’t be manufacturing ebook reading devices, but they are looking to supply the technology to companies that are searching for an alternative to e-ink and LCDs. Hopefully Amazon, will pick up this technology for a new Kindle model. Mirasol products are supposed to be shipping later this year, but we will have to wait and see.