What’s Apple up to at this “secret” facility in North Taiwan?

Apple iPhone display OLED Qualcomm IMOD Longtan Taiwan
Credit: Apple, Inc.

Pay no attention to the CEO behind the curtain

A new Apple facility in Longtan, North Taiwan, is shrouded in secrecy. But it seems to be developing a new iPhone display technology that’s brighter and uses less power.

Some assume it’s OLED, but others joined the dots to the building’s previous owner, Qualcomm. The workers there were developing “IMOD”—essentially a color e-ink display, based on arrays of teeny-tiny “MEMS” mirrors. And it seems Apple has hired many of those workers, so strengthening the rumor.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers pull back the curtain for a peek at what’s next.

curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.


“According to people with knowledge” is the usual journalistic trope for this sort of thing. Tim “mea” Culpan doesn’t disappoint, in Apple Opens Secret Laboratory in Taiwan to Develop New Screens:

Apple...engineers are developing new display technologies.

The Apple building in Longtan has at least 50 engineers and other workers...the people said.

Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Apple...declined to comment.

Engineers are developing more-advanced versions of the liquid-crystal displays currently used...the people said. Apple also is keen to move to [OLED].

Tucked in a corner of Longtan Science Park, between a forest and the building site...the structure shows no outward indications of belonging to the world’s most valuable company [but] Apple moved into the factory in April [and] the Longtan address [is now] the headquarters of Taiwan Apple LLC.


An OLED screen in an iPhone? Finally! Jon Russell leaves this—Apple Is Reportedly Developing Its Own, Energy-Efficient Screens For iPhone And iPad:

[It] could lessen [Apple’s] dependence on third-party suppliers like Samsung and Sharp, and boost the battery life of its products.

That could mean good news for customers who worry about the battery life of their devices.

You may have to wait a while for the benefits...but it appears that things are moving in the right direction at a quicker pace.


Or perhaps not. Let’s get inside the story. Here’s Daniel Eran Dilger, with Apple has taken over Qualcomm's IMOD Mirasol display lab in Taiwan:

Apple...has recruited talent from...AU Optronics Corp. as well as Qualcomm, the former owner of the building.

Qualcomm Mirasol displays used an entirely different technology compared to conventional backlit LCDs [or] OLED. ... Qualcomm's IMOD technology...doesn't require a backlight. ... Once an image is created, it requires no power...similar to E-Ink displays. [And it] maintains full visibility in direct sunlight.

IMOD uses tiny moving mirror-like elements, referred to as being a micro-electro-mechanical system, or MEMS (also known as a "micro-machine").

Apple may have acquired more than just the facility, and...has some interest in using Mirasol IMOD technology. ... It may also have some relation to Apple's recent purchase of a small chip fab in San Jose, formerly used by Maxim...to produce MEMS components.


Oh, so not OLED then? Aston441 hopes Dilger is right:

I hate OLED so much. The best thing about the iPhone is the lack of it.

Burn in and change over time. It's still a thing...a problem no one has solved.


But that’s an out-of-date perception, according to NeatOman:

When i got the first Galaxy S i noticed after about a year and a half it had burn in. The first or second generations of OLED from Samsung had burn-in, but I’ve looked at 2-3 year old Samsung phones and I really can’t tell.

And OLED TV’s have the best display, besting the best Plasma.


You have been reading IT Blogwatch by , who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk.
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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