Display maker Pixel Qi gets major investment from 3M

By on September 12, 2011, 5:00 PM

We've been hearing about Pixel Qi's exciting display technology for a while now but the company has yet to make significant progress in the consumer market. Today, however, they are getting a major vote of confidence from 3M in the form of a "major" investment that will reportedly help bring Pixel Qi screens to widespread mass adoption.

The magic behind Pixel Qi's 3Qi displays is that with a flip of a button you can go from a traditional high-resolution color display, to a backlight-disabled state that makes it perfectly visible outdoors. The company claims the screens can consume up to 80% less power in this reflective mode compared to conventional LCD screens, as the screen will only use power when the display changes, but will maintain the quick response time of an LCD display.

According to Mary Lou Jepsen, Pixel Qi's founder and former CTO at the One Laptop Per Child organization (OLPC), the company has been manufacturing its 10-inch display in multiple fabs, but the conditions in the display industry have been tough over the last three years due to the recession and a tight supply chain caused by the iPad.

Exact terms of the deal were not disclosed but 3M has said it is aimed at strengthening Pixel Qi's engineering and sales capabilities. The company also says it is interested in combining Pixel Qi's disruptive display technology with their technology platforms to create new business opportunities in the consumer and commercial markets. 3M's Optical Systems Division in particular makes films that optimize the light throughput of LCDs.

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