updated 08:15 pm EST, Wed January 25, 2012
Qualcomm acquires Pixtronix for is MEMS tech
Qualcomm has acquired Pixtronix for its PerfectLight MEMS-based display technology. Qualcomm confirmed the purchase, but did not disclose the reasons behind the acquisition or the price, which is rumored be between $175 million and $200 million. It is thought that the Pixtronix technology may either complement Qualcomm's existing MEMS-based Mirasol display tech, or push Mirasol beyond its current capabilities.
Pixtronix, a fabless start-up, was established in 2005 by Nesbitt Hagood. Although it does not have displays on the market yet, it has developed a 5-inch prototype with Chimei Innolux (which makes displays for Apple, among many others). The PerfectLight displays use MEMS-based digital micro shutters that modulate light from an RGB LED backlight.
The Pixtronix technology is capable of offering a wide 170-degree viewing angle and can support full-speed video playback. It also offers a 3,000:1 contrast ration and support for 24-bit color depth while drawing only a quarter of the power needed by a conventional LCD of the same dimensions.
Electronista went hands-on with Qualcomm's second-generation Mirasol tech as implemented in the Kyobo eReader at CES 2012. We found that the technology had improved markedly over the first generation. It is much faster and more fluid, with fast and response pinch-to-zoom capabilities. Video ran well, but it was slow to refresh when turn pages or scrolling. Its narrow color gamut also has its drawbacks in its current form.
Given the potential benefits with color accuracy, the Pixtronix solution may help Qualcomm overcome this last major hurdle in the development and widespread adoption of MEMS-based displays. [via EE Times]