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Qualcomm shows off emerging display technology

Neither e-ink nor LCD, new micro-mechanical displays are low-power, daylight-readable, and fast. Or will be.

The G-Core is a GPS gadget for golfers that uses the daylight-readable Mirasol technology. Rafe Needleman / CNET

PALM DESERT, Calif.--Qualcomm's MEMS Technologies group at Demo 09 is showing off its evolving Mirasol display technology, which is based on micro-mechanical control of a reflective material (for a real explanation, see the Mirasol site).

The pitch is that Mirasol displays take much less power than standard backlit LCDs, and are also readable in daylight. At the moment, screens on the s Mirasol-based devices look like black-and-white watch LCDs. Yes, they're visible in sunlight, but they're not very interesting. Qualcomm says faster refresh is coming, allowing video, as well as color displays.

Mirasol displays are "bi-stable," which means they retain their image with the power off. Readers may thus be forgiven for thinking Mirasol displays are a form of electronic ink, of the type found in e-book readers like the Kindle. But Qualcomm takes pains to say that the color and refresh capabilities of the technology have yet to be fully revealed, and will blow past e-ink in those areas.