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Pixel Trickery Helps Create a Brighter Screen

• Kate Greene via

The iPad's bright and beautiful screen comes with a cost: a battery that makes up most of the tablet's weight. A new display technology designed for tablets uses a quarter of the power consumed by most screens while improving the range of colors and the resolution.

The technology, developed by Samsung and its affiliate, Nouvoyance, uses a novel pixel design that lets more of the backlight shine through. It combines this with algorithmic tricks that dynamically dim the backlight based on the image on the screen.

"People want at least 10 hours of battery life on their tablet," as well as screens that have more color and higher resolution, says Joel Pollack, executive vice president of Nouvoyance.

A standard LCD display uses a pixel architecture called RBG stripe, in which each pixel is made of red, blue, and green subpixels that filter color from a white backlight. The process is extremely inefficient—more than 90 percent of the backlight luminescence is wasted.

Normally, to increase the resolution, the number of pixels needs to increase, as does the number of transistors used to control those pixels. The problem is that the transistors block part of the pixel. Some smaller displays are built with a new process that lets transistors shrink and still supply the amount of current needed to drive a display, but it's difficult to scale this up to larger displays like those in tablets and TVs. Normally, as the resolution goes up, says Pollack, "the amount of area that light comes through shrinks." 

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