[Interview] Pixel Qi COO Discusses '3Qi' Hybrid Display

Jun 30, 2009
Yasushi Uchida, Nikkei Electronics
John Ryan, COO of Pixel Qi, and a prototype of the 3Qi
John Ryan, COO of Pixel Qi, and a prototype of the 3Qi
[Click to enlarge image]

Pixel Qi, a US-based venture, unveiled a prototype of its LCD panel "3Qi" in early June. It features not only a normal color display mode but also the "electronic paper mode," which is suited for reading text.

The 3Qi is attracting interest because of its potential of replacing electronic paper (e-paper), which is based on the technologies developed by companies such as E Ink Corp. I interviewed John Ryan, COO and VP, Marketing at Pixel Qi, about the 3Qi.

Q: First of all, please explain how Pixel Qi was established.

Ryan: Our CEO, Mary Lou Jepsen, was the CTO at OLPC (One Laptop per Child), a nonprofit corporation famous for the development of the "$100 PC," before establishing Pixel Qi. In the aim of providing a notebook PC to each child living in developing countries for educational purposes, OLPC developed a notebook PC called "XO."

The most expensive and power consuming component in a PC is an LCD panel. Therefore, it was necessary to develop an LCD panel that is low cost, low-power consumption and can be viewed outdoors.

After designing the XO at OLPC, Mary considered using this panel technology for a wider range of users. That's why she established Pixel Qi.

In the LCD panel industry, most of the development resources are directed to TV panels. In fact, displays for notebook PCs are equipped with panels with a high luminance and a high color reproductivity as in the case of TVs.

However, for most of PC users, the most important application is "reading." Unfortunately, not many PCs are developed by focusing on this application.

So, we began to consider what we could do to improve LCD panels from the viewpoint of "reading." To put it simply, it is a display whose power consumption is low and resolution is as high as electronic paper.

Our goal is to develop an "LCD e-paper." Through several years of development efforts, we have just finally developed an LCD panel we wanted.

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