Founder and CEO Mary Lou Jepson has always had high hopes for Pixel Qi’s low-power, super-reflective LCDs. While the displays popped up in niche tablets like the Notion Ink Adam, they have yet to reach the sort of mass-market penetration Jepson has always wanted.
Jepson’s wishes may soon come true, if today’s announcement is any indication: industrial giant 3M is investing an undisclosed amount in Pixel Qi as part of the company’s Series B investment round.
Pixel Qi’s displays have generated quite a bit of buzz in recent years, due to its highly adaptable nature. When the backlight is turned on, the screen looks like any other LCD, but when the backlight powers down, the highly-reflective display takes on the appearance of an eInk screen. The end result is a screen that works just as well in the sunlight as it does in the dark, with impressive battery life to boot.
Details of the deal, which was run through 3M’s New Ventures division, are still draped in shrouds, but it should be quite the shot in the arm for Jepson’s San Bruno operation.
“In our collaboration with 3M, we have the ability to accelerate this into mass adoption,” says Jepson. 3M’s investment will allow Pixel Qi to kick production into high gear, and with good reason: while Pixel Qi will continue to work on getting their displays into more consumer-facing devices, the technology is also being looked at for usage in digital signage and “touch applications.” If all goes well, it hopefully won’t be too long before the first mass-market Pixel Qi devices start hitting the streets.