Mirasol display

If the major theme in mobile technology this year was dual-core processors, consider 2012 to be the year of reducing battery drain. We will see more power efficient processors, modems,  and smarter software, but most importantly we will have the next generation of display technology.

Leading the way is Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc. (QMT) and their new Mirasol display. It is the industry’s first to use interferometric modulation (IMOD), which is a micro-electro-mechanical systems-based technology able to create color from ambient light. Simply put, the display only uses a fraction of the power of traditional LCD displays.

This week Qualcomm and Kyobo Book Centre, Korea’s largest seller of books, announced the world’s first e-reader to include Mirasol display technology. The main appeal of the Kyobo e-reader is its long battery life, promised to allow for “weeks of reading under typical usage.”

We’ve already seen other e-readers like Amazon’s $ 99 Kindle Touch which allow you to read up to two months on a single charge with wireless off and a half hour of reading per day. It’s hard to compare how the Kyobo tablet will measure up because Qualcomm doesn’t tell us how many weeks it will last and “battery life varies depending on usage and ambient light.”

However, Mirasol provides the clear advantage in user experience because it supports vibrant color and video. Clarence Chui, SVP and GM of QMT said, “Kyobo’s customers will be the first to enjoy the exceptional color e-reader experience and long battery life that only mirasol displays can provide.”

Highights of the Kyobo e-reader include:

  • 5.7” XGA format (1024 x 768 pixels) mirasol display (screen resolution of 223 ppi)
  • 1.0 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor
  • Kyobo’s custom application interface runs on top of Android 2.3

Kyobo’s e-reader is now on available in South Korea with the device selling for KRW349,000 (US$ 310) or a special discount price of KRW 299,000 (US$ 265) for Platinum Book Club members. Again, this is not as cheap as the Amazon Kindle Fire, but you can never really make comparisons with the different currency rates.

Even though the current version of Mirasol displays are aimed at the e-Reader market, Qualcomm has already revealed they are working on the next version of the displays and spending $ 1 billion to build a new factory in Taiwan that is scheduled to come online in mid-2012 and be able to produce Mirasol displays at a very large scale. These new displays should include faster response times, better color reproduction, and higher resolutions.

Check out the Kyobo demo video below for an idea of what to expect. The animation doesn’t look totally smooth, but it appears to get the job done. Amazon has always had a focus on battery life for their Kindle family of products, so it’s possible we could see Mirasol displays in future generations of the Kindle lineup.

Expect more information about Mirasol displays when we head to CES in January.

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