Sharp claims that it has found a way to solve the battery-draining issues typically caused by backlit LCD displays, with the introduction of a new type of LCD for wearable computer devices.
Sharp says that its new 1-inch liquid crystal display panel for wearable computer devices, such as smartwatches, consumes 0.1% the energy of current LCD panels. Instead of a backlight, it makes use of ambient light and reflector layers inside pixels to illuminate what’s on the display. While the approach drastically custs the LCD's power consumption, it also means that the LCDs cannot display in a completely dark environment.
In addition, the panels incorporate embedded memory chips and can save power on retrieving data by storing images for a certain amount of time, drastically reducing the amount of electricity used during the transfer of data.
The panel is actually a color memory LCD. It combines reflective LCD technology and LTPS (low-temperature poly-silicon) technology and is capable of displaying eight colors. A similar technology was also applied at Sharp's currently available, monochrome Memory LCDs, which embed memory in every pixel, enabling each pixel to hold state while requiring very little current. This delivers an "always on" display that uses little power.
The Japanese electronics maker will start mass-producing the new panel in Japan next spring.
LTPS technology has been a research focus for Renesas SP Drivers, which was recently acquired by Synaptics. Sharp had owned a 25 percent stake in Renesas.
Sharp has also been developing its MEMS-IGZO power-efficient displays for smartphones and tablets that could help devices run twice as long as those with conventional LCDs.