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Comments on: Palm Receives Display Technology Patent

In a rather unexpected nod to the retro screen technology of yore, Palm has recently received patent #7002569 from the USPTO. The new software patent covers the ability to make the screen to go into monochrome mode in order to extend battery life on mobile devices.
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Fantastic

wannitnow @ 4/10/2006 2:59:52 PM # Q
This is absolutely wicked! Brilliant idea!

RE: Fantastic
hkklife @ 4/10/2006 3:47:47 PM # Q
Upon reading this on another site I thought it an April Fool's hoax.

After some time I decided this was actually a potentially useful, viable patent (assuming it ever sees the light of day in a shipping device).

Here are some of the initial concerns I'd have with this technology--anyone with a good understanding of the principles of LCD technology feel free to chime in with more info:


#1 Will Palm ever actually incorporate this technology into a shipping device?

#2 Will consumers stand for a handheld or smartphone that "goes mono"in this day of color LCDs on nearly all mobile devices?

#3 Why is it taking Palm so long to arrive at incorporating any kind of power-saving technology into their products?

#4 Wouldn't this technology be best utilized mated to intermittent power-saving steps such as CPU downthrottling, wireless "sleep" modes and automatic dimming of the LCD's backlight while still in color mode?

#5 How will existing color-only software handle being forced into monochrome? Many developers would balk at again having to rewrite their software in order to preserve basic functionality just to accomodate a Palm Garnet OS (presumably OS 5.x is where this would appear) hack.

#6 Palm is not in the LCD business-are they going to have to shop this tech around to Sharp, Sony etc or can this be achieved solely through software using the current Sharp/Sony LCDs?

#7 Palm's recent trend has been to have screen backlights that cannot be turned off entirely. Does this mean they are going to permit color LCDs with the backlight completely off if the user would prefer that over monochrome?

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Fantastic
cervezas @ 4/10/2006 3:52:19 PM # Q
I like this idea, too. It would be even nicer if you could set your device to run in 2 or 4 bit grayscale all the time. Hardly a retro look because of the white backlighting, I personally think "high grayscale" could be a very attractive, understated new "color theme" for mobile devices with a valuable function of saving your batteries.

Better still will be the day when screen refresh rates on eInk displays get down below a tenth of a second. You'll be able to have a high-contrast always-on display that has zero drain on the battery except perhaps when you push a button for the backlight or when an alarm or call comes in. It would suck for video until the refresh rates were on a par with video frame rates, so I don't expect to see this for a while, but I for one would be happy to dispense with video and gaming (which I never use anyway) to get the big improvement in battery life and the always-on display.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: Fantastic
cervezas @ 4/10/2006 4:15:10 PM # Q
hkklife wrote:
#5 How will existing color-only software handle being forced into monochrome? Many developers would balk at again having to rewrite their software in order to preserve basic functionality just to accomodate a Palm Garnet OS (presumably OS 5.x is where this would appear) hack.

No, in my opinion there would be no need for any change to existing code to make this happen. The system would simply map the colors that the developer had indicated to the nearest grayscale value. It would be easy to make this transparent. In fact, the system already does some mapping like this when dealing with colors that the screen doesn't support. Of course, some games that used contrasting colors with the same grayscale equivalent might not be too usable. But do you really want to be playing games when your battery is getting low? (If so, just switch the feature off.)

#6 Palm is not in the LCD business-are they going to have to shop this tech around to Sharp, Sony etc or can this be achieved solely through software using the current Sharp/Sony LCDs?

I don't think this would require anything different in terms of LCD hardware. It might require some special drivers for existing LCD panels, which Palm or an ODM would need to develop, but I think we're only talking about a change at the software level.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

RE: Fantastic
Billav @ 4/10/2006 5:48:34 PM # Q
Do you think that this would make the screen easier to read in bright daylight?

RE: Fantastic
AdamaDBrown @ 4/10/2006 6:20:40 PM # Q
I like this idea, too. It would be even nicer if you could set your device to run in 2 or 4 bit grayscale all the time. Hardly a retro look because of the white backlighting, I personally think "high grayscale" could be a very attractive, understated new "color theme" for mobile devices with a valuable function of saving your batteries.

I doubt that that would really save much if any battery life. The power savings of a monochrome display isn't that you don't have to display color, it's that you don't need a backlight most of the time. Having white backlighting on would effectively make it just a color screen displaying black and white.

RE: Fantastic
cervezas @ 4/11/2006 12:47:27 AM # Q
The power savings of a monochrome display isn't that you don't have to display color, it's that you don't need a backlight most of the time.

Yeah, actually, I think you're probably right. It seemed to me that backlighting wasn't the only reason that LCDs suck a lot of juice--they require orders of magnitude more video memory. If Palm worked out a way to power down some of the video memory (much as they've always done by "sleeping" the processor when it's not in active use) it might extend battery life beyond what they'd achieve by dimming the backlight alone. But after reading the patent it does sound like the objective is mainly to reduce the use of the backlight.

I notice that some Nokia phones power off the backlight when the device sleeps but continue to display a high-contrast date/time status bar on the LCD. It's fairly readable outdoors or in a well-lit room due to the transflective screen, but not nearly as readable in those conditions as the old monochrome "green screens" were.

David Beers
Pikesoft Mobile Computing
Software Everywhere blog
www.pikesoft.com/blog

I heard to the contrary
ackmondual @ 4/12/2006 12:07:27 PM # Q
I doubt that that would really save much if any battery life. The power savings of a monochrome display isn't that you don't have to display color, it's that you don't need a backlight most of the time. Having white backlighting on would effectively make it just a color screen displaying black and white.

I heard to the contrary...

Assuming all other variables are the same, an 8bit color screen uses less power than an 16bit color screen. I'm no expert, but between this and the video memory requirement, it seems to make sense.

"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 of 6 screws still remaining) ~?~> zodiac 2?

RE: Fantastic
ackmondual @ 4/12/2006 12:10:27 PM # Q
#1 Will Palm ever actually incorporate this technology into a shipping device?

Shipping device? As in this tech comes with new Palm models are did that sentence have another meaning i missed?

#2 Will consumers stand for a handheld or smartphone that "goes mono"in this day of color LCDs on nearly all mobile devices?

My guess is they don't have a choice. Until them fuel cell battery technology (or whatever it was called) comes to fruition, the only other ways to conserve battery power is underclocking and certain other technologies. While those have helped, there's still more that can be done.

Look at this from a laptop user's point of view. Some of the "shoddier" models can get double to triple the battery life if the screen brightness is turned from a nice and bright viewable high setting to a pretty dim low setting. That's they're tradeoff. For those with battery life oriented laptops, they pay a premium for that.

#3 Why is it taking Palm so long to arrive at incorporating any kind of power-saving technology into their products?

Easier said than done? They needed time to acquire the patent and put it into motion is my guess.

#4 Wouldn't this technology be best utilized mated to intermittent power-saving steps such as CPU downthrottling, wireless "sleep" modes and automatic dimming of the LCD's backlight while still in color mode?

#5 How will existing color-only software handle being forced into monochrome? Many developers would balk at again having to rewrite their software in order to preserve basic functionality just to accomodate a Palm Garnet OS (presumably OS 5.x is where this would appear) hack.

Another option would be to just make the screen go blank and either pause the game or give the user the option to exit it entirely.

#7 Palm's recent trend has been to have screen backlights that cannot be turned off entirely. Does this mean they are going to permit color LCDs with the backlight completely off if the user would prefer that over monochrome?

probably not. Palm has left this to 3rd party utilities, not all of which work as ideally as one could hope for. For my eyes, I prefer my zod2 to a notch above the minimum.



"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 of 6 screws still remaining) ~?~> zodiac 2?

RE: Fantastic
AdamaDBrown @ 4/12/2006 1:29:04 PM # Q
Assuming all other variables are the same, an 8bit color screen uses less power than an 16bit color screen. I'm no expert, but between this and the video memory requirement, it seems to make sense.

In theory, perhaps, but in terms of overall power consumption, the LCD itself is miniscule compared to the backlight.

Shipping device? As in this tech comes with new Palm models are did that sentence have another meaning i missed?

Yeah, that's what he meant. Unfortunately there's no guarantee that this will show up anytime soon, if ever--remember that the patent was filed for over three years ago, and Palm may not even care about it anymore, even if they had a plan for implementation then.

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Phones

legodude522 @ 4/10/2006 4:44:34 PM # Q
I wouldn't quite expect this in a PDA but looks more like a feature designed for cell phones and the Treo.

Palm m125 > Palm Zire 71 > Tapwave Zodiac 1 > Palm Zire 72 > Sharp Zaurus SL-C1000
So long Palm OS.
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I'm surprised the idea is patentable

SeldomVisitor @ 4/10/2006 5:46:28 PM # Q
Anyone see the recent IEEE Computer magazine?

-- http://www.computer.org/portal/site/computer/menuitem.5d61c1d591162e4b0ef1bd108bcd45f3/index.jsp?&pName=computer_level1_article&TheCat=1005&path=computer/homepage/0306&file=cover.xml&xsl=article.xsl&

That's a link into the "Visualizing Information on Mobile Devices" article referenced from the main page:

== "...Providing mechanisms in hardware and software for
== the system to gracefully reduce the energy consumed when
== its full functionality is not used offers the promise of
== dramatically reducing display power consumption without
== compromising user acceptance..."

Also see the article on User Interfaces:

-- http://csdl2.computer.org/persagen/DLAbsToc.jsp?resourcePath=/dl/mags/co/&toc=comp/mags/co/2006/04/r4toc.xml&DOI=10.1109/MC.2006.144#abstract

The whole (April) magazine is:

-- http://www.computer.org/portal/site/computer/index.jsp

[pardon if that first couple links are not viewable - don't know if they are or not for you guys]


RE: I'm surprised the idea is patentable
SeldomVisitor @ 4/10/2006 6:02:44 PM # Q
Oh good grief.

It was the MARCH issue, not April - the links above are from April and are indeed somewhat relevant, but the MARCH issue has:

== "...Providing mechanisms in hardware and software for
== the system to gracefully reduce the energy consumed when its
== full functionality is not used offers the promise of
== dramatically reducing display power consumption without
== compromising user acceptance..."

-- http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?isnumber=33768&arnumber=1607946&count=32&index=12

The authors are with Hewlett-Packard...

[and apologies for getting the issue wrong...]

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Palm Recieves Display Technology Patent

MleB @ 4/10/2006 6:21:38 PM # Q
But not one for a spell checker...

;)

RE: Palm Recieves Display Technology Patent
Ryan @ 4/10/2006 7:02:20 PM # Q
thx as always
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I'm interested in seeing how well this affects color w/light off

timepilot84 @ 4/10/2006 6:45:08 PM # Q
According to the patent, the transreflective layer also provides light to the color screen in strong light conditions (ie outside). I'm really curious to see how well this would work. It'd be neat if they could incorporate an EL layer so you could get minimal illumination, like the old Palm 3 series. That would be spectacular IMO. I'd probably leave the device in B&W mode most of the time.



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I like the idea.

VampireLestat @ 4/10/2006 8:00:56 PM # Q
Once again, Palm innovates. I am sure Gates is reading PIC right now and taking notes...

I think the idea is appealing. If you go on a long bus/train trip, if you go camping, or if you are simply a PIM user who likes extended battery life, then this idea is great.

Will the screen be backlight? i.e., will I be able to read eBooks in the dark, or will I have to switch to backlight/colour mode?

RE: I like the idea.
Foo Fighter @ 4/11/2006 12:29:41 PM # Q
>> "Once again, Palm innovates. I am sure Gates is reading PIC right now and taking notes..."

Yes, Bill Gates is certain to be scouring the web looking for the latest innovation in PalmOS hardware, considering what great interest his company has in the antique PDA market. Even more so given that Microsoft is a software company.

-------------------------------
Pocketfactory.com

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Negroponte's $100 laptop

fierywater @ 4/10/2006 8:38:07 PM # Q
Negroponte was planning something similar to this (though I admit that I did not read the entire patent).

"The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, with a dual-mode display—both a full-color, transmissive DVD mode, and a second display option that is black and white reflective and sunlight-readable at 3× the resolution."

From Laptop.org.

Interesting. It's definitely a good idea. It appears that Palm's idea utilizes software to achieve its end, though, where Negroponte's laptop uses alternative hardware.

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This is not new...

RonDG @ 4/11/2006 3:23:31 AM # Q
my very old Ericsson T68 mobile phone does this

RE: This is not new...
phoneboy @ 4/12/2006 12:06:22 AM # Q
No. You're confusing this feature with the spectacularly dull colors of the T68 screen. I own one as well. I guess it's acceptable for the first color-screen cell phone on the market (in this area anyway).

Sharp 16KB Organizer, US Robotics Palm Pilot 1000, Palm III, Palm IIIx, Palm V, Palm Vx, Palm M505, Sony Clie NR-70, Palm Tungsten 3, Compaq iPaq 3955 (for kicks), Sony Clie UX-50
RE: This is not new...
RonDG @ 4/12/2006 7:34:04 AM # Q
Nope, notice how it goes to monochrome mode to display the clock screensaver. You could read the clock even with the backlight off.

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Finally a useful new feature from Palm

bdholmes @ 4/11/2006 12:44:23 PM # Q
If this feature finds its way into an upcoming Palm, it will be a sign that Palm is finally returning to form. Instead of continually adding features at the fleeting whims of toy boys on this forum (what next lads? MIMO Wifi? an xVGA screen? ghz CPU?) regardless of cost in terms of size and battery life, Palm is adding useful functionality.

What use is a PDAssistant that isn't with you because it has run out of juice, or is just too big?

Hopefully this technology is small, and Palm can return to making more Ipod Nano thickness devices rather than Palm TX.

Brendan
Palm V - Palm Vx - Palm M500

RE: Finally a useful new feature from Palm
AdamaDBrown @ 4/11/2006 1:15:07 PM # Q
Uh, return to making devices the thickness of the iPod Nano? They've never done that before...

And in any event, it's doubtful that this is an actual technology so much as it is a patent on an idea.

RE: Finally a useful new feature from Palm
Foo Fighter @ 4/11/2006 1:28:06 PM # Q
>> "Hopefully this technology is small, and Palm can return to making more Ipod Nano thickness devices rather than Palm TX."

That would be pointless considering the market for "traditional" PDAs (ala TX) is drying up. A nano-thickness Palm V form factor device would be a loss leader in terms of sales because such nostalgic devices have no appeal to anyone outside the minutia of PDA cultists (the few who are left).

-------------------------------
Pocketfactory.com

RE: Finally a useful new feature from Palm
hkklife @ 4/11/2006 2:15:23 PM # Q
I'd argue that a loss-leader Nano/Palm V/TX type device (thin, super sylish and decently spec'd) would be far, far more beneficial to Palm's image as a halo effect type of trendsetter. Certainly more so than the LifeDrive (thick/heavy, hot, laggy, expensive etc) was a year ago. Look how much attention the LD got from the press upon its debut.

Besides, Palm needs to field at least ONE model with a 320*480 screen for the forseeable future. What better than a TX on the low end and a ultra thin metal bodied unit on the high end ($400ish)? They can even stick 2gb of flash in it and call it a "personal media manager" or some such trendy non-PDA moniker.

No, Palm needs at least one stylish, well built device that echoes the V & m500 series. Style has been absent from Palm's cookie cutter devices for too many years now. A solid 1-2 punch of a super thin HVGA PDA & a thin, antenna-less Treo Hollywood (even if it is WinMob) would be the thing to get Palm back on their feet styling-wise.


Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX

RE: Finally a useful new feature from Palm
ackmondual @ 4/12/2006 12:25:08 PM # Q
actually, if Palm were to follow PPC's VGA screen, the next in line would be SVGA (800x600)

"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 of 6 screws still remaining) ~?~> zodiac 2?

RE: Finally a useful new feature from Palm
timepilot84 @ 4/12/2006 1:48:53 PM # Q
if Palm were to follow PPC's VGA screen, the next in line would be SVGA (800x600)

VGA on a PPC is a useless battery burner (and video lagger) for the most part. Anything bigger than HVGA needs to be on a bigger screen. Give me a 5 inch vga screen, and I'm a happy lad.

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User's can switch between old/new Palm modes

ackmondual @ 4/12/2006 12:26:15 PM # Q
old Palm like Visor Neo/III (or whichever the grayscale one was) and new Palms with 16bit color. "Old Palm mode" would also underclock the CPU further saving more battery juice. I'm sure ppl who got modern PDAs were delighted in having wifi, color, hi-res, better audio, but were disheartened that their three week+ battery life on their old grayscale PDAs was cut down several days. For those who use their PDA for mostly simple PIMs, this lets them conserve lots of battery juice, and then turn it up full blasts for those few moments where they need all that color and power.

"Do you know the difference between an error and a mistake? Anyone can make an error, but that error doesn't become a mistake until you refuse to correct it."
-Grand Admiral Thrawn

the secret to enjoying your job is to have a hobby that's even worse

My PDAs: Visor --> Visor Neo (blue) --> Zire 71 --> Tungsten T3 (with 4 of 6 screws still remaining) ~?~> zodiac 2?

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