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MEMS: amazing little machines



Other commercial products include a revolutionary display technology from Microvision. This MEMS-based display enables viewing full-size web pages and e-mail attachments on a small cell phone. It will soon enable digital camera owners to see images at print resolutions through the viewfinder.



Today's displays mostly paint images by beaming electrons (CRTs) or driving arrays of digital pixels (LCDs). In a CRT (cathode ray tube), electromagnetic fields bend the beam to hit a particular point. The display seems to show a complete image instead of one rapidly moving pixel because the phosphor's glow, which persists even after the beam passes, is read by our eyes as persistence.



Microvison's display replaces the electron gun with a low-power laser or with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). This light is modulated to turn individual pixels on and off and then bounced off a moving MEMS mirror directly into your eye. The sensors in your eye act as the screen. The device works by moving a tiny gimbaled mirror in an electromagnetic field to complete the image via raster scan. The result is the perception of a large screen several feet in front of the viewer.

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