Pixel Qi Corporation is an American company involved in the research of low-power computer display technology, based in San Bruno, California. It was founded by Mary Lou Jepsen, who was previously the chief technical officer of the One Laptop per Child project.The company designs liquid crystal displays that can be largely manufactured using the existing manufacturing infrastructure for conventional LCDs. The advantage of Pixel Qi displays over conventional LCDs is mainly that they can be set to operate under transflective mode and reflective mode, improving eye-comfort, power usage, and visibility under bright ambient light. Wikipedia.
Pixel Qi | Date: 2012-02-21
In an embodiment, a transflective LCD comprises pixels each comprising a first polarizing layer; a second polarizing layer; a first substrate layer and a second substrate layer opposite the first substrate layer; the first and second substrate layers are between the first polarizing layer and the second polarizing layer; a liquid crystal material between the first and second substrate layers; an over-coating layer adjacent to the first substrate layer; the over-coating layer comprises at least one opening for a transmissive part; a remainder of the over-coating layer forms in part a reflective part; a patterned in-cell retarder adjacent to the first substrate layer; the patterned in-cell retarder covers at least a portion of the reflective part; a reflective layer between the over-coating layer and the second substrate layer; the reflective layer substantially covers the reflective part; the patterned in-cell retarder is between the reflective layer and the first substrate layer.
Pixel Qi | Date: 2013-01-18
A display panel comprises two or more display portions having two or more different types of pixels in two or more different spatial segments of the display panel. The display panel may be coupled to a display driving circuit configured to drive two or more display portions in two or more different spatial segments of the display panel to operate in two or more different display modes.
News Article | June 11, 2014
The floodgates for the next major smart device revolution are opening. And unless you have been living under a rock you already know that this time it's a smart watch, a long overdue update to what is essentially 19th century wristwatch technology. There are already a fair number of early players in this new category—in this article we'll examine how well the displays in two second generation smart watches from two top tier manufacturers perform: the Sony SmartWatch 2, with an LCD display, and the Samsung Galaxy Gear 2, with an OLED display. Smartwatches are the next revolution in tech gadgets because a watch should be able to tell you a lot more than just the time. Plus, smartphones are now so important and doing so much that they need a readily assessable and conveniently viewable assistant to help out with all that's going on in the smartphone—a smart watch is perfect for this and your wrist is prime coveted real estate. So if you get lots of text messages, emails, appointment and app alerts, or even voice calls, then a smartwatch will be very useful and helpful. It's no surprise that most of the major mobile tech players are expected to compete in this new category, including (alphabetically) Apple, Google, LG, Motorola, Qualcomm, Samsung, and Sony. That turns out to be a major challenge for a number of reasons. First, the screen size is only about 1.5 inches, so the display needs a fairly high resolution in pixels per inch in order to provide sharp and easy to read fine text and graphics. It also needs to produce fairly bright images because watches are often viewed in high ambient light. A larger color gamut is also needed to counteract color washout from ambient light, plus vibrant saturated colors are quite helpful when reading screens with text and graphics information. A major challenge is accomplishing all of this with greater than one day of battery running time. The software OS, user interface, and apps for smartwatches are evolving and improving rapidly, so it isn't necessary to wait for completed and polished software before buying one—but the display cannot be updated so select it very carefully. We won't be discussing the software here, just the display. You'll find lots of software and app reviews and articles elsewhere, but we'll provide an in-depth analysis of smart watch displays that you will find nowhere else. Almost all current smartphones use a backlit LCD or an OLED display—both require battery power to generate their light. They will also work in a smartwatch provided the display is on only when you need to look at it—just like a smartphone. That can be done with a manual on button, a touchscreen gesture, or by monitoring the motion and position of the watch and then automatically turning the display On when it is moved to a viewing position. That's how the Samsung Gear 2 OLED display works. Another approach is to use a reflective display, which can use existing ambient light to keep the screen working and visible at all times without a significant power drain—only requiring an internal light in reduced ambient light conditions. Qualcomm's Mirasol color display works that way (although the Color Gamut is subdued). LCDs can also be manufactured with a pure reflective mode (like traditional LCD wrist watches), or with a combination of both a backlit transmission mode and a reflective mode, which is called a Transflective LCD. That's how the Sony SmartWatch 2, Pebble, and Pixel Qi displays work. Here we will test the Sony SmartWatch 2 and the new Samsung Gear 2. In the near future we'll do a Multi-Display Technology Smartwatch Shoot-Out. To examine the performance of the Sony SmartWatch 2 and Samsung Gear 2 displays we ran our in-depth series of Mobile Display Technology Shoot-Out Lab tests and measurements in order to determine how the displays performed. We take display quality very seriously and provide in-depth objective analysis based on detailed laboratory tests and measurements and extensive viewing tests with both test patterns, test images, and test photos. The Samsung Gear 2 has a 320x320 pixel 1.63 inch RGB Stripe OLED display, touch screen, accelerometer, gyroscope, home button, 2 MP camera, 4GB memory, microphone, speaker, vibrate function, IR LED to act as remote control, heart rate monitor, charging cradle, and Bluetooth communication. The watch is IP67 dust- and water- resistant (up to 30 minutes in one meter of water). It runs under the Tizen OS and works with the Samsung Galaxy S5, Galaxy S4, Galaxy SIII, Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 2 Smartphones. The user interface is already fairly nice. Samsung provided DisplayMate Technologies with a production unit to test and analyze for this Display Technology Shoot-Out article. The Sony SmartWatch 2 has a much lower resolution 220x176 pixel 1.60 inch Transflective LCD display, touch screen, home button, Ambient Light Sensor, vibrate function, micro USB charge port, NFC and Bluetooth communication. The watch is IP57 dust- and water- resistant (up to 30 minutes in one meter of water). It works with any smartphone running Android 4.0 or later. The user interface is currently quite primitive, but presumably will improve in future updates and upgrades. We purchased this unit retail. In this Results section we provide Highlights of the comprehensive Lab tests and measurements and extensive visual comparisons using test photos, test images, and test patterns that are covered in the advanced sections. The Lab Tests and Measurements Comparison Table section summarizes the Lab measurements in the following categories: Brightness and Contrast with Ambient Light, Color Gamut with Ambient Light, Screen Reflections, Viewing Angle Variations. You can also skip these highlights and go directly to the Conclusions. The small size and weight required for a watch means the battery power is strictly limited. The big question is how long will any particular smart watch run on battery before needing recharging (from either AC or a supplementary battery pack). That will vary considerably based on how frequently a consumer uses it, and the particular Apps that are selected—for that reason we did not test the battery running time for this article. Because of the wide range of consumer uses, multiple display technologies will be needed for smart watches. Conserving and efficiently using battery power and extending the running time involves a number of different approaches and compromises for the displays on smart watches, which we discuss below. The Lab Tests and Measurements Comparison Table has a detailed set of display specs and measurements. Sharpness: A major difference between the two displays is their screen sharpness: the SmartWatch 2 has a 220x176 pixel screen with 176 ppi and 39K total pixels, while the Gear 2 has a 320x320 pixel screen with 278 ppi and 102K total pixels. The SmartWatch 2 screen was visibly coarse and heavily pixelated (even visible in large text) made worse with poor anti-aliasing, plus the small pixel aperture ratio needed for a transflective LCD makes it much more noticeable. On the other hand the Gear 2 OLED RGB Stripe display was very sharp, even with fine text and graphics. Brightness: Both displays are fairly bright: the SmartWatch 2 has 495 nits while the Gear 2 has 415 nits in Outdoor mode and 296 nits in Standard mode (Level 5). However, at typical viewing angles (discussed below) the Gear 2 is brighter. Color Gamut and Saturation: The Gear 2 has a very wide color gamut, 135 percent of the sRGB / Rec.709 Standard, which I normally don't like, but on a small 1.6 inch screen the additional color saturation is not objectionable, and actually compensates for the reduction in color saturation caused by ambient light. So under typical ambient light viewing conditions the Gear 2 color gamut is close to 100 percent. The SmartWatch 2 has a 91 percent color gamut, but it falls drastically with ambient light, and the screen is monochrome in reflective mode. Color Depth: In order to reproduce images well a display needs to be able to display a wide range of intensity levels – most good displays provide 256 intensity levels, which is essential when mixing the red, green and blue primaries to produce all of the necessary on-screen colors. The 256 intensity levels produces 24-bit color. The Gear 2 display has excellent 24-bit color. Sony specs the SmartWatch 2 display at 16-bit color, which has only 32-64 intensity levels, which produces noticeable artifacts in images that have a range of intensities. In a small 1.6 inch display that would normally be fine, but our test images shown below indicate only 16 intensity levels, which is 12-bit color—the lowest I have seen in a very long time, and is simply unsatisfactory as shown next. A good way to evaluate the display and compare the image and picture quality is with screen shots of a number of test patterns and test photos on each display. We have included three below: a DisplayMate test pattern with smooth white, red, green and blue intensity ramps, a NASA spacecraft photo of a Sunset on Mars, and a Sony Xperia demo photo. Note that the images and displays all have varying aspect ratios. The display on the Samsung Gear 2 accurately and nicely reproduced all three images. The display on the Sony SmartWatch 2 produced poor to horrendous versions of the images, with considerable false contouring and related artifacts, which were quite noticeable even on its small 1.6 inch screen, demonstrating some of the display issues that are discussed above and in the Lab Tests and Measurements Comparison Table. While two of these images are challenging, many of Sony's own set of (soft) demo photos had easily noticeable image artifacts. Even if you are not interested in looking at photos on your smart watch (it's nice for quickly showing some family photos) these test images demonstrate important display performance issues. While we are all used to having the time always visible on a mechanical wrist watch, that seems hardly necessary for a smart watch, particularly with motion and gesture sensors to automatically turn on the display when the wrist is moved to a viewing position. The always on reflective displays each involve selective performance compromises such as reduced image contrast, color gamut, viewing angle, resolution, and intensity scale, and slower response time. Using a combination transmissive and reflective LCD seems like a good solution, but it comes with a significant performance penalty in both the backlight transmissive mode and the reflective mode that keeps the always on image visible in moderate ambient light, and in many (but not all) high ambient light situations (see below). It remains to be seen how consumers will respond and decide which compromises are tolerable or necessary, so multiple display technologies will undoubtedly be needed for smart watches.. Smart watches are likely to be used more often in higher overall ambient light than smartphones, so how the screen visibility and readability are affected by ambient light is extremely important. Ambient light washes out the screen colors and image contrast. There are a number of ways to improve display performance in ambient light: the two best known are increasing the screen brightness and reducing the screen reflectance. Another is to use extra saturated primary colors and dynamic image contrast to counteract the image washout. But high ambient light will at some point overpower all emissive displays like LCDs and OLEDs. One additional important viewing strategy that we all do automatically is to adjust the angle and position of our wrist to improve watch visibility, and if necessary also rotate so the watch is in our shadow. That works quite well in most circumstances, except in places like the beach. Reflective displays use an entirely different approach by proportionally reflecting the ambient light, so they have a fixed Contrast Ratio (42 for the SmartWatch 2), and in principle are viewable for any level of ambient light, no matter how high. However, one major enemy for all displays, including reflective displays, are mirror (specular) reflections that overlay the display image with distant images that are reflected by the upper layers of the screen. The only solution is again to vary the angles and positions as mentioned above. In its Outdoor mode the Samsung Gear 2 display was readable and usable even in fairly high 40,000 lux outdoor ambient light, but not in direct sunlight. Its strong saturated primary colors also improve high ambient light readability. The Sony SmartWatch 2 display was also very readable at 40,000 lux and above, and even in direct sunlight in its reflective mode. However, for both watches the mirror reflections mentioned above require the display to be carefully oriented to avoid imaged reflections (including possibly your face). See the Brightness and Contrast with Ambient Lightand Color Gamut with Ambient Light sections for details. Almost all displays and display technologies look best when viewed straight on with a zero degree viewing angle – and that's how most people try to view their smartphones, tablets, notebooks, monitors, and TVs. However, a watch is attached to your wrist, which can only move in a constrained manner, so most of the time it's easier, more convenient, and more comfortable to hold it at an intermediate viewing angle like 30 degrees. At that viewing angle the Brightness of most LCDs falls by over 55 percent, and the Contrast Ratio falls even more, by over 75 percent, while OLEDs experience only a 20 percent decrease in both. As a result, the SmartWatch 2 LCD display has a drastic performance decrease at typical viewing angles, but the Gear 2 OLED display experiences only a relatively small one. While the SmartWatch 2 is considerably brighter at 0 degrees, the Gear 2 is brighter and has a much higher Contrast Ratio at typical viewing angles. See the Viewing Angle Variations section for details. The performance differences between the displays in these two top tier second generation smart watches are surprisingly quite large. The OLED display on the Samsung Gear 2 performed very well across the board, almost identically to the most recent Galaxy S OLED Smartphones in almost every test measurement and viewing category. It looked and performed like a small version of a high quality OLED smartphone display—including sharpness, high pixels per inch, brightness, color depth, color gamut, viewing angle, in ambient light, and overall image and picture quality. For details see the Lab Tests and Measurements Comparison Table and also the screenshots above. On the other hand, the Transflective LCD display on the Sony SmartWatch 2 was quite disappointing across the board, especially for a second (actually third) generation device. To easily see that examine the mediocre to poor results in the detailed Lab Tests and Measurements Comparison Table and also in the screenshots above. In particular, the coarse and heavily pixelated low resolution and low pixels per inch screen made worse with poor anti-aliasing, the very low color depth, the poor color gamut in ambient light, and also the poor viewing angle performance (because watches are not easily positioned for zero degree viewing). Using a combination transflective LCD comes with a significant performance penalty in both the backlight transmissive mode and the reflective mode that keeps the always on image visible in moderate ambient light and in some but not all high ambient light situations. The choices and compromises made by Sony for the SmartWatch 2 display simply do not work well. The (rumored) upcoming (presumably) LCD smartwatches from LG and Apple will undoubtedly perform considerably better. The early adopters have been enjoying their smart watches for quite some time. The display is clearly the most important and key component in a smart watch, and the current Samsung Gear 2 already has an excellent display. We'll revisit smartwatch displays again soon when the highly anticipated products from Apple, LG, and others arrive. The software OS, user interface, and apps for all smart watches will continue to improve rapidly with downloadable updates. It will be really interesting to see what other display technologies and strategies are introduced for smart watches, the consumer responses to them, and how they will evolve over time. We'll see more reflective, transflective, curved, and bendable smart watch displays in the near future, and also microLED smart watch displays in the not too distant future. There is no doubt that smart watches will be taking over from mechanical wristwatches, and most likely much sooner than most people think. Below we examine in-depth the displays on the Sony SmartWatch 2 and Samsung Gear 2 smart watches based on objective Lab measurement data and criteria. For details and additional information on all the measurements see our Galaxy S5 Display Technology Shoot-Out article. For comparisons with the other leading displays including LCDs see our Mobile Display Technology Shoot-Out series. Below is a partial excerpt of the table; you can see the full comparison at DisplayMate. This article has been republished with permission from DisplayMate.com, where it can be read in its entirety. Dr. Raymond Soneira is President of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation of Amherst, New Hampshire, which produces video calibration, evaluation, and diagnostic products for consumers, technicians, and manufacturers. See www.displaymate.com. He is a research scientist with a career that spans physics, computer science, and television system design. Dr. Soneira obtained his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University, spent 5 years as a Long-Term Member of the world famous Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, another 5 years as a Principal Investigator in the Computer Systems Research Laboratory at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and has also designed, tested, and installed color television broadcast equipment for the CBS Television Network Engineering and Development Department. He has authored over 35 research articles in scientific journals in physics and computer science, including Scientific American. If you have any comments or questions about the article, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. DisplayMate Technologies specializes in proprietary sophisticated scientific display calibration and mathematical display optimization to deliver unsurpassed objective performance, picture quality and accuracy for all types of displays including video and computer monitors, projectors, HDTVs, mobile displays such as smartphones and tablets, and all display technologies including LCD, OLED, 3D, LED, LCoS, Plasma, DLP and CRT. This article is a lite version of our intensive scientific analysis of all types of displays – before the benefits of our advanced mathematical DisplayMate Display Optimization Technology, which can correct or improve many of the display deficiencies. We offer DisplayMate display calibration software for consumers and advanced DisplayMate display diagnostic and calibration software for technicians and test labs. For manufacturers we offer Consulting Services that include advanced Lab testing and evaluations, confidential Shoot-Outs with competing products, calibration and optimization for displays, cameras and their User Interface, plus on-site and factory visits. See our world renown Display Technology Shoot-Out public article series for an introduction and preview. DisplayMate's advanced scientific optimizations can make lower cost panels look as good or better than more expensive higher performance displays. For more information on our technology see the Summary description of our Adaptive Variable Metric Display Optimizer AVDO. If you are a display or product manufacturer and want to turn your display into a spectacular one to surpass your competition then Contact DisplayMate Technologies to learn more.
News Article | April 21, 2012
Pixel Qi, a Silicon Valley company that makes innovative LCD screens for mobile devices, says its latest generation displays meet or exceed the quality of the iPad 3’s Retina display resolution. In a blog post today, the company’s chief executive, Mary Lou Jepsen, said her company is “finalizing” the development of its new screen family with its partners, and published a graph showing how Pixel Qi’s latest screens of equal display resolution to the iPad 3 (2048 x 1536) also use much less power than the iPad 3’s battery-guzzling screen (see below). On the one hand, Jepsen isn’t just another upstart firing off a speculative blog post. Jepsen led the engineering for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project, where she architected the design of the so-called “$100 laptop.” So she’s got credibility. On the other hand, her blog post doesn’t contain any specifics about when exactly this new screen will hit the market. The firm, based in San Bruno, Calif., late last year raised an unspecified amount of money in a round of funding from 3M New Ventures. Otherwise, the company hasn’t made very many announcements over the past year. Pixel Qi has manufacturing operations in Taiwan and California. In her post, Jepsen says about 90 percent of the iPad 3’s battery appears to be used for driving the display, and adds that while she loves the iPad 3 screen quality, she was “shocked” by the overheating reports and the massive 8 Watt power draw. She says her company’s screens will work inside and in direct sunlight, and that her company’s screens boast full image quality matching or exceeding that of the iPad 3 on most measures — including matching or exceeding contrast, color saturation, and viewing angle — all while saving batter power. The Pixel Qi’s low power mode runs at a full “100x power reduction from the peak power consumed by the iPad 3 screen,” she writes. Existing Pixel Qi screens have been shipped in about a dozen consumer products, and the company says at least 3 million screens have shipped in total. One of the products is the OLPC XO 3.0.
News Article | January 8, 2012
The tablet from the One Laptop Per Child organisation has been expected for some time now, and was originally planned for 2010, so confirmation that it will launch at CES is welcome news. It's a tablet aimed at children in the developing world, with an 8-inch screen that's 1,024x768-pixels resolution, 512MB of RAM, and sporting Marvell's Armada PXA618 SOC processor inside, Slash Gear reports. It also charges in a completely unique way for a tablet. Not only is it solar powered, it also has a hand crank, so children far from a charging point will be able to juice it up. Just one minute of hand cranking will power it for 10 minutes, according to OLPC. The final production model looks a little different to the concept, but that's to be expected. It comes with a peel-off silicone cover that'll protect it when in a bag, or if dropped. It runs either Android or Linux operating systems, features a Pixel Qi screen for easy viewing in bright sun, and ports include full-sized USB, headphone and a memory card slot. The cost will be just $100 (£70), though we won't be able to buy it, as it'll be sold in bulk to governments in developing countries taking part in the OLPC scheme. Chief technology officer at One Laptop Per Child, Edward McNierney, said the XO 3.0 is a "natural successor" for the scheme's current laptops. We'd be inclined to agree -- tablets are really gaining in popularity thanks to the iPad, so it's great to get them in the hands of people in the developing world. Let us know your thoughts on the XO 3.0 below, or over on our Facebook page.
News Article | November 30, 2012
One Laptop Per Child has cancelled plans to release its XO-3 tablet, although technology from that project could still be used in other products, OLPC chairman Nicholas Negroponte said. "The XO-3 is by no means gone. It may emerge in its constituent parts rather than as a whole," Negroponte said. OLPC started off in 2005 as a laptop project and is well known as a hardware innovator, with its first XO-1 laptop being praised for its unique and environmentally friendly design. The XO-3 cancellation comes as OLPC officials say the organisation could de-emphasise the focus on hardware design in the long run in favour of education projects. The nonprofit group announced plans for the XO-3 tablet in 2009 and showed early samples at CES earlier this year. The tablet was supposed to ship earlier this year for $100, but it was delayed while OLPC finalised the design and sought partners to manufacture the XO-3. The tablet was meant to be a low-cost computing tool for students in developing countries. The XO-3 was originally priced at $75 and that triggered a backlash, in part because critics said the price was unrealistic. OLPC didn't plan to have the product manufactured itself, as it did with the XO-1 laptop, which too was delayed and eventually shipped at double its promised $100 price tag. The XO-3 design is still available, and it is more likely that companies use some of the tablet's key technologies, such as flexible power input and charging efficiency, said Ed McNierney, the chief technology officer at OLPC. "There's a lot of decent tablet technology out there - it's really a question of putting things together in the right package for the children we're trying to serve," McNierney said. "The Nexus 7 is nice, too, and a more kid-friendly size, and there are other good examples." The tablet shown at CES had a rugged body, an 8-inch screen and included optional technologies such as a solar charger and support for satellite Internet. It used a display from Pixel Qi that conserves battery life by using ambient light to brighten the screen. OLPC's priority has always been education and the need to design its own complete hardware systems "may go away," Negroponte said. Tablets are an important learning tool for children, but companies may be able to ruggedise existing low-cost products for use in schools, he said. "We had to build the XO-1 laptop, but we do not have to build the tablet," Negroponte said, adding that, "the need for OLPC may morph into something else." OLPC also designed a hybrid laptop-tablet called the XO-4 Touch (top image), which includes some of the XO-3's features. That product is still scheduled to ship early next year. The XO-4 resembles the original XO-1 laptop but has a touchscreen that can swivel around and fold over the keyboard to make an e-reader. As an alternative to the XO-3, Negroponte is not opposed to buying low-cost tablets and distributing them to schools. Tablets from companies such as Motorola, which have been deployed as an educational tool in developing countries, have shown good power management and no breakage in rugged environments. "I am surprised how good they are, as they were not designed for the environment," Negroponte said. Experiments have shown that tablets have made basic learning and computing easier, he said. "The amazing result is that the kids are showing all the precursors of reading," Negroponte said. OLPC will continue with hardware design on the XO-4 and beyond for the simple reason that there are now nearly 3 million XO devices around the world, McNierney said. "That means two things: ongoing support for the existing customers, and ongoing engineering to keep the design current. Existing customers need additional units, spare parts, etc. and that need won't go away," McNierney said. Components also must be refreshed every 18 to 24 months to keep using readily available parts and to keep the price down. "That doesn't mean, of course, that OLPC needs to be the organisation to do those things in the long run. That's the nice part of being a nonprofit; we do things - like design hardware - when no one else is stepping up to do them. If someone else can do them, we can stop," McNierney said.
News Article | April 21, 2012
We've yet to see Pixel Qi's unique, transflective, and outdoor-readable color displays make a big impact in the market — only about a dozen consumer devices use the company's screens — but the company isn't standing still. In a new blog post founder Mary Lou Jepsen teases that Pixel Qi has "new architecture" that has the same 2048 x 1536 resolution as the new iPad's Retina display and yet uses much less power. According to the chart below, it looks like the power savings are still just "proposed" at this point, but it's still good to hear the company's at least trying to make a screen that uses far less less power than the iPad's. All those power savings might lead you to believe that the screen would look nothing like the iPad's, but Jespen says that its contrast, color saturation, and viewing angle are all better than the Retina display. We'll have to see it to believe it, but that might not be as far off as you think: the company is apparently already in the process of finalizing development partners for the new display.
News Article | October 3, 2014
The Wall Street Journal reports that Google's secretive, hardware-focused laboratory, Google X, has a display division—and it's current working on making giant displays. The head of the division is Mary Lou Jepsen, cofounder of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project and founder and former CEO of Pixel Qi, a startup that makes displays that are readable in direct sunlight. The report says that Google X is hard at work creating "large-scale video displays" that are "composed of smaller screens that plug together like Legos to create a seamless image." The modular design would allow for different screen shapes and sizes, just by moving the modules around. This sounds like most large-format displays already in existence, such as the Christie MicroTiles pictured above. The Google X difference is that the group is trying to figure out how to make modules without any seams at all. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the borders around each rectangular module. The Google X group has apparently managed to poach some engineers from Samsung and Qualcomm, but the report describes the team as "small." Large-format displays are typically used for stadium jumbotrons, digital billboards, and video walls. It's not known what Google would want to do with large-format display technology or who its potential customers might be, but those are all typical questions for anything coming out of Google's mysterious skunkworks.
News Article | March 2, 2015
Mary Lou Jepsen, who has been head of Google X’s display division since 2012, has left to join the maker of another high-tech set of eyewear: Oculus VR. Jepsen’s career has revolved around taking what she calls “moonshots.” During her tenure at Google X, she worked on two such efforts, including Google Glass. While at the company, she reported directly to cofounder Sergey Brin. Although an Oculus spokesperson would not elaborate on what Jepsen will be doing at the Facebook-owned virtual-reality technology developer, it’s a safe bet it’s something high-level and strategic. In her past, which included a stint as one of the very first group of students at the MIT Media Lab, and later a professorship there, she was the cofounder and CTO of the One Laptop Per Child project. That project aimed to make laptops available to children for about $100 each. Her work also led her to be named one of the “Time 100” in 2008, essentially ranking her among the hundred most influential people on the planet, as well as being listed as one of the 50 greatest female computer scientists of all time by the Anita Borg Institute. According to Time, she was the co-creator of the world’s first holographic video system, in 1989. Her penchant for taking moonshots may be a coincidence, but Jepsen was also a NASA fellow from 1992 to 1994, during which time she designed a new anti-glare illumination system for the space shuttle, according to her resume. Over her last couple of years at Google, Jepsen was involved in building the company’s follow-up to Google Glass. However, it’s not yet known what that is. Jepsen’s joining Oculus makes a lot of sense, given her long history with display technology. In addition to work at the MIT Media Lab, Google X, and now Oculus, she also was founder, CTO, CEO, and then board member of Pixel Qi, a company whose “mission is to catalyze the massive LCD manufacturing industry to faster innovation via the first truly fabless effort in the industry.” Her hiring was first reported by GigaOm.
News Article | October 6, 2014
The top secret experiments at Google's skunkworks operation, known as Google X, now reportedly include a strange new approach to display technology. Google's experimental displays will come in all shapes and sizes and fit together in modular pieces, much like a set of Lego blocks, sources told The Wall Street Journal. Once connected to each other, the smaller screens will have the ability to form one seamless, larger display. The effort is said to be led by former MIT professor, Mary Lou Jepsen, Google X's head of display research, who also founded Pixel Qi, a company focused on developing low-power mobile screens you can read in direct sunlight. Little else is known about the modular screens at this point, but one source with knowledge of the project did offer a comment as to its development. "The big challenge is to electronically, and through software, do the stitching between the seams," the source told the Journal. Given the mixed responses to Google's Nexus smartphones and Chrome notebooks, the notion of more hardware from Google isn't necessarily packed with promise. Still, if you imagine a wide array of modular smart screens distributed throughout a hotel or airport, allowing you to connect your small, portable screen to larger stationary ones, all equipped with Google Now, suddenly the modular screen idea gets a lot more interesting. Despite the success of Google's overall business and its ambitious approach to innovation, the Google X lab pedigree is no guarantee of mainstream traction for any of its new creations. Google X projects Google Glass and the company's self-driving car have both garnered a good deal of attention, but neither has managed to gain any significant foothold as a commercial venture. However, a recent Google X creation, Project Wing, an autonomous, drone-powered delivery system, indicates that the company's research remains aggressive in its approach toward innovation — regardless of commercial considerations. A Google spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by Mashable for comment on the report. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.