Blink and you’ll miss all the new eco-friendly developments coming from the cell phone industry. Solar power, recyclable materials, e-manuals, and now low-power displays. Unlike LCD displays that shine with their own light, Qualcomm’s new “mirasol” cell phone displays, now in production at a Taiwan facility, reflect ambient light.
Tiny mirrors in the display manipulate light, but since they only consume energy when they’re moving, static images use very little power–much like the e-ink display used in Amazon’s Kindle. Mirasol displays go one step further, though, with the ability to quickly change images and show video. The displays also use fewer materials than LCD, lacking polarizers, brightness-enhancing films, color filters, and active matrices.
Mirasol displays aren’t entirely new. They’re already used in a handful of Korean and Chinese phones, but the displays are still more expensive than LCDs. Qualcomm is betting that the price difference will eventually even out, and that consumers will be attracted to cell phones that don’t need to be charged quite as frequently as standard models. We’ll find out soon–Qualcomm expects the displays to go on sale later this year.