Inventec, LG debut mirasol screens

Could mirasol be the next OLED?
Could mirasol be the next OLED?

Qualcomm has announced that its innovative mirasol screen will shortly be available in the Inventec V112 Windows smartphone - and that LG is already working on a colour version of the low power, reflective display technolgy.

Mirasol is the trademarked name for a new type of display based on IMOD (Interferometric MODulation) and utilising MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) structures at its core.

Basically, instead of a power-guzzling backlit LCD display, a mirasol screen works with reflected light. Within each picture element, conductive plates (one with a thin film on glass, the other simply a reflector) are separated by an air gap.

Mind the gap

When a small voltage is applied, the plates together through electrostatic attraction and incident light, making the element look black. When no voltage is applied, the plates remain separate and reflect incident light, with its colour depending on the height of the optical gap.

The mirasol display is bistable - meaning it takes virtually no power to display a static, unchanging image. It's also capable of blur-free video playback, thanks a response time measured in the tens of milliseconds.

The Inventec V112's mirasol screen is a secondary (1.1-inch) bichrome display beneath the main screen, and is also overlaid with a touch-sensitive membrane.

It shows time, date, incoming or missed call info, MP3 track title and so on, and allows the user to tap the screen to play or pause songs, respond to message alerts and search call lists.

The V112 itself is a Windows phone and has GPS, MP3, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities, as well as a 3MP camera and messaging support.

LG jumps on board

LG also announced today that it was developing "one or more" mirasol-based handsets, including phones with full-colour mirasol screens.

"LG looks for innovations like Qualcomm's mirasol display that can give us a competitive edge and differentiated user experience our customers have come to expect," said DooWhan Sang, vice president of LG Electronics.

"With the display's low-power capabilities, LG can see how our customers could be able to take advantage of sophisticated mobile applications for longer periods of time and view it across a range of lighting environments."

Mark Harris is Senior Research Director at Gartner.