December 18, 2008

More Battery lifetime? Yes thank you?

Yahoo!Tech reports (via PCWorld) that Mary-Lou Jepsen continues her line of work from the OLPC project in her new company (PixelChi) to extend the battery life of laptop computers by attacking the area of the laptop's display, and how it integrates with and is managed by the laptop.

The OLPC display and laptop designed by Jepsen included some innovative design features that significantly extended it's battery life. These include a high-res, monochrome reflective display mode (great for reading monochrome content in anything from moderate to strong lighting conditions) and the ability to power off much of the display driver circuitry when the display contents are not changing.

The OLPC was designed for a particular purpose and operating environment, and now she's working to take such innovations and new ones to commercial laptops with the hope of extending battery life to beyond 20 hours and maybe to as much as 40 hours (without extra battery backs it is presumed).

One of the keys is how the display driver circuitry is integrated with the display, and the control of it. Thus her company will be producing designs for most of the laptop. This system approach is needed when optimization is required in a particular area, as plugging together standard components will get you "standard" results.

Many of these innovations should be applicable to any eBook readers that decide to go with LCD displays (e.g. the JetBook covered elsewhere in this blog), but much less so to E-Ink or other bi-stable display technologies.

But, if such improvements can be delivered to LCD displays, then that could put eBook readers using color LCD displays into the same range of battery life as some existing E-Ink readers - hence bringing Color and faster update rates and interactivity to the game.

Off-course other display technology developers (such as E-Ink) are attempting to increase refresh rates and add color, so it's an obvious collision course. But as consumers we can only hope that one or both technologies arrive and we have healthy competition and choice in the eBook reader market.

Also, as demonstrated by the OLPC with it's monochrome reflective display mode, we may see these displays in laptops that are transformable into workable eBook readers - giving us new hybrid style devices.

1 comment:

Mike Cane said...

Here's some firsthand info about the ECTACO jetBook:

Micro Fondle 2: ECTACO jetBook eBook Reader