First Mirasol-enabled device on sale in South Korea

An E-reader launched by South Korea’s largest book retailer, Kyobo, has become the first device featuring a Qualcomm-produced colour Mirasol screen to go on sale. Mirasol display technology, developed by wholly-owned subsidiary Qualcomm MEMS, offers significant reductions in screen power consumption, as well as improved visibility in daylight.

The technology, which is based on the same principles that create the shimmering effect on the wings of butterflies, has been in development for a long time. The firms are claiming that, depending on ambient light conditions, the device will “weeks of reading” on a single charge.

“Kyobo is a recognized content leader focused on bringing unique and innovative experiences to its customers,” said Clarence Chui, senior vice president and general manager of Qualcomm MEMS Technologies, Inc. “Kyobo’s customers will be the first to enjoy the exceptional color e-reader experience and long battery life that only mirasol displays can provide.”

Qualcomm made little fanfare around the first commercial appearance of the new technology, and Ovum analyst Nick Dillon suggested that Mirasol has proven more complicated than Qualcomm initially expected and that it wants to launch it as softly as possible.

“I think it’s clear that the technology has been trickier to develop than Qualcomm first envisaged, given the time it has taken to come to market,” Dillon said. “I think they are using the Kyodo product as a soft launch to test it out and to try and generate some interest form other manufacturers.”

Dillon said that the technology is not yet at the stage where it can offer comparable colour and video performance to the TFT and LED screens that dominate the current mobile device market. But as it improves, Mirasol will likely be deployed in smartphones and tablets, he said. “It should lead to some interesting new products,” he added, “there is definitely room for innovation in this area.”

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