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Qualcomm acquires smartphone, tablet display startup

Qualcomm acquires a display tech company that may help it advance its development of mirasol displays for smartphones and tablets.

Kyobo eReader with 5.7-inch 1024x768 Qualcomm Mirasol display.
Kyobo eReader with 5.7-inch 1024x768 Qualcomm Mirasol display.

Qualcomm has acquired display startup Pixtronix, which has developed technology applicable to smartphone and tablet screens.

Andover, Mass.-based Pixtronix's Digital Micro Shutter technology integrates MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems) and TFTs (thin-film transistors), providing "differentiation, while leveraging proven manufacturing equipment, processes and materials," according to the company's Web site.

Hallmarks of the technology listed by Pixtronix include low power, high-speed light modulation, Digital TFT backplane, backlight efficiency of 60 percent (a claimed 10-fold advantage over LCD), utilization of existing TFT-LCD equipment, processes and materials, and elimination of high cost, performance-limiting liquid crystals, color filters and polarizers.

Pixtronix has claimed that a display will offer viewing angles greater than 170 degrees, a contrast ratio better than 3,000:1, and 24-bit color depth at one quarter of the power consumption of an equivalent LCD.

A 5-inch prototype display has been developed with Chimei Innolux, a TFT-LCD manufacturer.

Presumably, Qualcomm is interested in applying this technology in some form to its MEMS-based mirasol displays, which have evolved from rudimentary tiny bichrome 1.2-inch-screen beginnings to the 5.7-inch color screen featured on Kyobo's e-reader (see photo above).

Mirasol displays excel in harnessing ambient light, thus saving power.

Qualcomm paid between $175 million and $200 million for Pixtronix, according to EE Times.

Qualcomm confirmed the acquisition to CNET but is not providing further details.

Via EE Times