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Originally posted 8/2/2004

by Nick Tredennick and Brion Shimamoto of Gilder Technology Report

As systems go mobile, displays shrink. Shrinking the display shrinks the image it delivers to the eye, but it doesn’t improve the display’s efficiency.

The transition from tethered systems to mobile systems changed the design objective from cost performance to cost-performance-per-watt. In electronics, the need for more performance per watt will drive the development and adoption of new design methods (reconfigurable systems) and of new memory components. In displays, the same constraints apply. The projection display and liquid-crystal display, with their near-zero efficiency, are ripe to be displaced by innovative designs.

The cell phone is becoming the universal device. It began with voice communication, but now includes the functions of a personal digital assistant, text and data transfer, email, and image capture. Soon, cell-phone users will want standard web-browser functions. Tiny displays cannot offer these browser functions.

The answer to the mobile device’s display problem: don’t use a conventional display. The industry has gotten stuck on imagers that mimic paper. The efficiency of these systems is limited by their format—building a physical display that an observer sees. Microvision has an answer: send the image directly to the retina.


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