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Mirasol Lives? Blogosphere Still Obsessed With Failed Screen Tech

Put this on the side of a milk carton

Put this on the side of a milk carton

It seems that Qualcomm is still talking to the press about their Mirasol screen tech, and that has some bloggers buzzing about the (im)possibility of a Mirasol-equipped ereader.

Pocket Lint reported yesterday that Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs had a closed door press briefing at CES . He probably held several briefings, but in the one attended by Pocket Lint Mr. Jacobs mentioned Mirasol.

I’m not going to link to the Pocket Lint article because they gave it a clickbait title and completely misinterpreted what Mr. Jacobs said. Here’s what they quoted:

"We have a next-gen technology that’s much brighter, should be more cost effective and has a number of other good attributes. It is this that we will license out," he said.

"I still believe in the technology," he continued. "It’s always on and outdoor viewable. And one of the things that will be in the new technology is a better colour gamut."

Pocket Lint took those statements to mean that the Mirasol screen would show up on ereaders. Yeah, that’s not going to happen – not on any large scale.

This screen tech first appeared on the trade show scene back in 2009, and it was originally planned to for use on ereaders. This was going to be a low-power color alternative to E-ink, but Qualcomm was unfortunately unable to¬† get production costs down. They also couldn’t solve an ongoing problem with a high failure rate due to general poor production quality (I’ve been told elsewhere that is a tricky product to manufacture). And once tablets and ereaders got cheap enough and battery life improved there was little to justify the extra cost on a Mirasol screen.

Qualcomm killed their own production lines back in July of 2011 and announced plans to switch to licensing the tech to other manufacturers. Sure, Qualcomm is still investing in some research, and sure, this tech might show up somewhere eventually. But I don’t see any chance of an ereader equipped with a Mirasol screen.

Leaving aside the fact that Qualcomm is trying to license the tech but not manufacturing it anymore, Qualcomm would have to offer the screen component at less than the cost of a comparable sized E-ink screen in order to gain the interest of device makers. That is around $50 or less, and at that price Qualcomm would basically be giving it away.

And I seriously doubt that anyone else will license the tech just to sell the screens at that price; the screen units cost too much to make.

All in all, this is a non-story.

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Mike Cane January 10, 2013 um 9:52 am

Oh, someone will get the bright idea of partnering with global advertisers. Buy a Mirasol Smart Frame for, say, $10 — or even get one for free Load in your pictures. Every X number of pictures cycled through, get an ad.

Nate Hoffelder January 10, 2013 um 10:06 am

Still too expensive.

fjtorres January 10, 2013 um 11:48 am

The said they had *a* new tech with all those great attributes.
Doesn’t necessarily mean Mirasol; it might be the Pixtronix tech they bought.

tac0 January 30, 2013 um 10:46 am

I would pay decent money for this screen in a digital picture frame, and probably enough for them to make a profit, though we’re vague on numbers here.

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