Pixel Qi has seemingly vanished without a trace

JC Torres - Jan 13, 2015, 5:30 am CST
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Pixel Qi has seemingly vanished without a trace

More than half a decade ago, an odd-named company became the center of attention and hype because of the promised holy grail of LCD displays. And although Pixel Qi was able to deliver, to some extent, that much sought after readability in whatever lighting condition, the company has failed to make a profit, enough to sustain its business in a viciously competitive display business. But while it has yet to issue a formal admission, provided the company actually does still exist, for all intents and purposes and as far as official communication channels go, Pixel Qi is practically no more.

Despite the benefits of OLED displays, LCDs are still the bread and butter of device screens today, but they are definitely far from perfect. Pixel Qi, which traces its roots back to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, was born out of a need to combine many of the things both manufacturers and end users would like to hear about: low power draw, visibility in light and dark environments, while still using the same LCD manufacturing tools already available in factories. For a time, the company was able to keep up with the attention, raking in some deals and devices, but probably not enough to keep it afloat.

One of its customers was Notion Ink, who was at that time working on the Adam tablet. The Notion Ink Adam itself was just as hyped as Pixel Qi. Unfortunately, it also fell drastically short of its own hype. Pixel Qi eventually had an investor in the form of 3M, but its financial support came at a cost. 3M was able to move Pixel Qi’s attention away from consumer electronics and into military and industry uses. After all, more than your average joe, soldiers and field workers need displays that can be read easily no matter how harsh or extreme the environment. Strangely, despite the huge implication this partnership would have on its business, Pixel Qi never announced anything, hinting that whatever deals it had fell through.

To add insult to injury, Pixel Qi lost its manufacturing capabilities in mid-2013, something some of its customers were able to attest to. No reason was given, however, and customers could only try piece the puzzle together. Chunghwa Picture Tube (CPT) was said to no longer be able to provide Pixel Qi their services, probably because of the low volumes of displays in demand. Whatever the reason, a display company that can no longer make displays is definitely on its way out.

But perhaps the final clincher is that Pixel Qi is without a head. Even before the manufacturing problem, founder Mary Lou Jepson left the company in March 2013 to head Google X‘s Display Division. Husband and then CEO John Ryan would follow later that year to become Google X Project Management director. Since then, Pixel Qi has been incommunicado, with its offices, phone numbers, and email addresses unreachable. We can only presume the worst and consider Pixel Qi dead. It only needs a formal obituary.

VIA: Good E-Reader


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