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Apple wants to merge LCD and e-ink

by on12 April 2011

Switching between them
Fruity cargo-cult Apple has worked out a way that LCD and e-ink may be put in the same gear.

A new patent application has been filed by Apple, was updated recently. The application has the catchy title Systems and Methods for Switching Between an Electronic Paper Display and a Video Display.

If it works, it would be a hybrid system that works by placing a transparent e-ink screen on top of a backlit colour LCD. You would flip between the screens using a touch-sensitive screen panel.

You would use the e-ink layer just to look at text, because this would be clearer and easier to read, particularly in direct sunlight. You would use the LCD for graphics and video.

Most technology companies file patents for their clever ideas mostly to make sure that others don't try to make money off them. While it is possible that Jobs' Mob is planning a hybrid device in the future, it may not necessarily happen.

Jobs' Mob may not even get the patent. The idea has been around for a while. Pixel Qi has a hybrid e-ink display. But while the Pixel method switches between e-ink and LCD modes manually, the Apple patent automates the process.

Apple's idea is to use circuitry which would analyse video input and switch modes automatically depending on what is happening on the screen. The patent talks about how this circuitry would be able to use both types of display on different areas of the screen at the same time, so you could read e-ink text while looking at inline video content using the LCD on the same page.

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