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The Grill: Pixel Qi's Mary Lou Jepsen on OLPC and the future of display technology

Pixel Qi's CEO talks about One Laptop Per Child, the future of display technology and a target market of 7 billion.

By Sara Forrest
January 19, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Mary Lou Jepsen is the former chief technology officer of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization. Her discoveries in display technology have helped create the XO, a laptop known for its low price and eco-friendliness. She is now focusing on advancing display technology with her company, Pixel Qi, which she founded in early 2008.

You gained worldwide recognition for your work with OLPC. How are you taking these technologies further with Pixel Qi? There is something about starting fresh. We started with a blank slate at Pixel Qi, and we have some very cool new screen designs that we anticipate will be on store shelves [this] year in both laptops and e-book readers.


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Name: Mary Lou Jepsen
Title: CEO
Company: Pixel Qi
Location: Taipei and San Bruno, Calif.
Favorite technology: All things optical.
Philosophy in a nutshell: "When people tell you something is impossible, what they are really saying is that it's an interesting project."
Most interesting place she has ever visited: "As a freshman in college, the holography lab. It absorbed the next decade of my life."
Favorite vice: The free sake at the ANA Lounge in Narita Airport.
Favorite nonwork pastimes: "What's that? Outside work? It will be a while... but seeing friends, kayaking, bike riding, seeing and making art, and going to concerts."

The OLPC screen was great but never had great color; its color was washed out -- by design. We started over and came up with a new design -- a new kind of LCD screen that has great color, but also a stunning e-paper mode, which is also a dramatic improvement over the OLPC e-paper state. In addition, we have driven the power consumption down. We are working on intertwining the display with the CPU and motherboard to dramatically further lower the cost and vastly prolong the battery life of the laptop between charges.

Longer term, we are developing products for 2010-2011 where we can completely remove the backlight from the LCD in laptops. These displays will be bright and colorful in room light and bright sunlight. They will be easy to read and offer ultralow power consumption -- less than 1% of current LCD power consumption.

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