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Shedding Light on a Solar Eclipse

There are a few questions we’re asked again and again about our technology. We hear these questions from folks visiting our website, at tradeshows (like SID, which we’ll talk about in a bit) and from you, our faithful readers. Over the next couple days, I’ll be offering some answers to a couple of these astute and very frequent lines of questioning.

The first item is centered on the ability to see our display in the dark. The questions usually go something like: “Yeah, but what if there’s no light?” or “OK, so LCD only looks good inside and you guys look good outside, right?” And my personal favorite, “What if there’s a solar eclipse?”

I think the easiest way to think about this is to remember that paper is a reflective display, just like mirasol® displays. There are very few people, I suspect, who wonder if they will be able to read a book, newspaper or magazine indoors or in the dark… they simply turn on a light. With that in mind, we have developed a lighting solution that sits above our display that will simply turn on to provide light when needed.

Aside from where it’s located on the display, there is a very important distinction between the light we produce from the front (a technology we cleverly refer to as a front-light) and a backlight, which is standard LCD fare in most mobile devices today.

A typical backlight cranks out an amazingly large amount of light, of which only a single-digit percentage makes it out to the front of the display to be viewed. That’s because the light must travel through a complex array of filters, polarizers and other materials — and transmission through these layers is inefficient. The important point is that the front-light is much more energy-efficient than a backlight.

Rest assured you’ll be able to see your display next time you’re unexpectedly caught in a solar eclipse. Here’s a video from SID, the annual tradeshow for all things display-related, that shows (among other things) our front-light solution in action.

Coming tomorrow: we’ll touch on... well, touch.

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