November 26, 2008, 9:29 AM — Display screen technology developer Mary Lou Jepsen is working at her new start-up to create laptop PCs so energy efficient they'll be able to run on a standard laptop battery for 20 to 40 hours before needing a recharge.
Jepsen, the formerly the head of Intel's display division and chief technology officer at One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), plans to start shipping ultra-low power screens for laptops and e-books in the second half of next year that people can read in direct sunlight and have a fully saturated HDTV-quality color mode.
Low-power screens that can be read in bright sunlight are one of the key features on OLPC's XO laptop. The screens cost a third that of traditional LCD screens and use about a tenth of the power.
"At Pixel Qi, we have a new series of inventions that go well beyond the OLPC screen that we are developing right now," said Jepsen by e-mail. Her company recently opened offices in Taipei and San Francisco after receiving a first round of funding.
More energy efficient screens are critical for mobile devices such as laptops and e-books because screens are among the most power hungry components on such devices.
Pixel Qi plans to develop entire laptop and PC designs around its new screen technology to create the most power efficient models possible.
One particular product in development at Pixel Qi is a new e-paper that is paper-white and offers both color and video. The screens draw just a small percentage of the power of a standard LCD screen and allow companies to make new kinds of laptop PCs with batteries that can last longer.
"We are working with a number of notebook and e-book makers on a number of different form factors," she said. "We can enable an increase of 5-10X battery life between charges compared with a standard notebook. This means that rather than needing to recharge your batteries every few hours, you could run 20-40 hours of use on a one charge."
The company is working on a range of screen sizes for laptop PCs and e-books, with some as thin as 1-millimeter, she said.
Pixel Qi will be announcing products in the near future. Jepsen expects to have new laptop and e-book screens shipping in the second half of next year.
One of the keys to keeping screen costs low and putting them on the market quickly is that the Pixel Qi's products will be made of traditional LCD materials on LCD manufacturing lines.
A subsidiary of Taiwanese LCD panel maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics is producing the screens for OLPC's XO, but Jepsen did not say which companies Pixel Qi is working with.
Pixel Qi's Taipei office was set up to work with hardware makers on the island. Taiwanese contract manufacturers account for around 90 percent of the world's laptop PCs, either from factories in Taiwan, China, or Vietnam.