Apple Tablet To Use OLPC Screen Technology?!


Have you ever played the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon with OLPC team members? I think you could make the case that OLPC is the center of the technology world - Nicholas Negroponte would get you pretty far, himself.

But rather than the whole technology universe, what about an Apple - OLPC link? We already know there is a 1 degree of separation between Negroponte and Steve Jobs - Jobs offered OSX for the OLPC before Negroponte turned him down. The Digital Life says it was more than just one event though. They quote Negroponte saying:

"I got an email from Steve Jobs (the night the laptop was revealed) he said you can't build it for a hundred dollars, and my answer was oh yes I can," Negroponte said as part of a lecture at the University of Pennsylvania, Thursday night. "He was actually a very good critic, and each time we got to a point, I did talk to him,"
olpc apple
OMFG - This would be hot!

And we all know that Ivan Kristic of Bitfrost fame, left OLPC and now works at Apple. But what about Apple folks at OLPC? Or more to the point, OLPC spin-offs? On this the Digital Lifestyle conjectures a hot idea OLPC's screen technology in the Apple Tablet:

Mary Lou Jepsen, former OLPC chief technology officer who has since left to form Pixel Qi, a company founded to commercialize the same revolutionary [OLPC] display technology. Pixel Qi's VP of Engineering is none other than Dr. Carlin Vieri who came to Pixel Qi from Apple, where according to his bio on the company site, "he engineered new generation display electronics for the iPhone and other devices."

See how we're connecting the dots? We wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Pixel Qi acquired by Apple just around the same time as the tablet is announced. No need to clue the competition to your display choice early. It would be similar to Apple's acquisition of Fingerworks just before multitouch at Apple took off.

Personally, I would be surprised. Dancing around my home office screaming "Hell's Yes! That's clock stopping hot, baby!" surprised. But that's just me. The rest of y'all would freak when Steve Jobs made the tablet use Aquatic Sugar.


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They possibly read it here first.

Pixel Qi IP being bought by Apple would not make sense, unless Pixel Qi gets a complete guarantee that Apple will not increase the pricing of the new screens. The whole purpose of Pixel Qi branching out of OLPC as a company, is to help accelerate lowering the cost of screens.

Apple is the complete opposite of low cost computing, in fact Apple dominates in the high cost, high margin, near-rip off, near-fraudulent and totally anti competitive and even anti-trust challenging business practices.

Apple not able to increase screen price? What are you smoking Charbax?

OLPC and Pixel Qi should not care or have influence over the price of the end product. They should keep the wholesale price low, so people can make cheap end products, but influencing that price - now that's anti-competitive.

What am I smoking?

If Apple were to buy Pixel Qi, the company and all its intellectual propriety, there may be no way for $100 laptops and OLPC to get any cheap screens, as it would obviously not be in Apple's interest to see laptops 10x cheaper than Apple branded ones being sold.

If anyone should buy Pixel Qi, I can only think of Google, to then provide the screens as cheap as possible in the Google Chrome Laptops to be sold at below $100, transform those into e-readers of all the contents from Google Books and the web in general, and for cheap sub $100 4.8" VOIP Android unlocked data-only (no voice/sms) phones.

Pixel Qi only has OLPC screen technology under license from OLPC - Mary Lou assigned the patent to OLPC long before Pixel Qi existed.

So even if Apple or Google bought Pixel Qi, they would still have to negotiate with OLPC to use screen technology. And the royalties would help OLPC fund XO laptop development.

If the current Pixel Qi patents are owned by OLPC, then great. But I don't think that's the case yet. The Pixel Qi 3Qi screen is very different and much improved over the XO-1 screen.

Watching the latest videos of Nicholas Negroponte on, it sounds like XO-1.75 will have a 10.1" 3Qi screen in the same form factor, which is great news. But from that to OLPC also still keeping full first access to all Pixel Qi advancements, let's hope that stays the case.

Cause if for example some big Apple or other went ahead and tried to buy Pixel Qi with all its IP and not only licence the technology, then that could block $100 laptops with 3Qi screens from being available in $100 devices and replacing all Laptops and ereaders that currently dominate the market and cost over $300.

I'm with Charbax. Letting Apple have PixelQi's patents would probably guarantee either high prices for its technology, or that Apple would be the only company to use it. If OLPC has the patents for the XO-1 screens, that's great, but I heard PixelQi made great strides since then.

AFAIK, it makes not a iota of difference if the Chat of the Roman Colosseum buys Pixel Qi, or it is Apple, or the Revolutionary Guards, or Google who gets that company, or if it stays independent. So far that screen technology has been used for XOs, and XOs only.

Why? no idea, and an email for comment on this, several months ago, to Pixel Qi has had no answer. Maybe some contract issue embroiled in NDA?

By all logic those screens, at their current technology, would *already* be being used by everyone and their mother *if they were available* which doesn't seem to be the case.

HA! I had forgotten about what Wayan was getting ready to add. Hmmmm. So, the blame for those screens not being available for everyone goes to ....

Irv, where are you when we need you?

Charbax, I fail to see your logic, help me please?
How is it that OLPC owning the patents makes the screens available? I don't see the connection. At most, OLPC owning the patents means OLPC gets the screens, but I am not aware of any of the OLPC hardware having trickled down to any other product, be it truly open and non-profit, or be it commercial.

If you want the best, Charbax, you want those screens to be available to *all*. As long as they are limited to one shop, be it OLPC, Apple, or Sinclair-Atari, they are not fulfilling their potential. By now there are laptops with similar specs to the XO *except for the screen* available for less than USD 75. Wouldn't you, more than anybody, want them to be available with superior technology, to fulfil the $100 laptop dream? Alas, it is not possible...

OLPC wants the screen to be available to all. That's why Pixel Qi was established, to popularize the technology to all manufacturers. The reason only OLPC got to use the first version of the screen was cause nobody else asked for it, nobody wanted 7.5" square aspect ratio screens.

The $75 ARM laptops that are on the market use off the shelf DVD player 7" screens, those are not good, they consume a lot of power.

But now, thanks to the efforts of Pixel Qi, there will be 10.1" versions upgraded to latest performance and quality, meaning two times clearer than XO-1 screen in black and white mode and two times better in color mode as well, larger and still lower power and cheaper. Also 10.1" is the size that all those netbooks want to use, because that is the size commanded by Intel and Microsoft on the netbook industry, if you go above 10.1", the cost of Intel Atom and Windows OS costs double as much to use.

"OLPC wants the screen to be available to all"
"nobody else asked for it"

Charbax, would you care to share with us the source for your assertion? and since you're at it, tell us how "wants" becomes policy becomes actual fact? And how soemone should go about to "ask" something of OLPC-the-institution and get an actual answer?

Not that there is anything wrong with sharing your (personal) opinions and desires, but when it comes to saying what are OLPC's are, hmmm, I'd like to know if there is any basis to them (not that that would turn them into facts, a complicated road indeed, but it's a beginning)

BTW, are you still into XO video? I have a few questions I am not getting answers to, maybe you would care to look at them?

I think CMO got the exclusivity to use XO-1 screen technology in exchange for delivering as many of those screens to OLPC for the given price per screen. CMO I think probably lost some money or didn't really make a lot of money. To get that screen, other manufacturers probably just would have had to go ask CMO for it, but nobody so far did.

That changes with Pixel Qi though since the 3Qi is engineered to simply be used in all the current netbooks, where it's easy for the manufacturer just to use 3Qi screen and not have to change much if anything on the rest of the hardware. DCON process and other hardware optimizations being optional and will come only later once manufacturers trust the screen even more.

XO 1.75 I think will likely have the 10.1" 3Qi screen and run up to 20 or 40 hours on a 3 cell battery, since the ARM processor uses basically nothing to power the device.

I just wanna know "how someone should go about to "ask" something of
OLPC-the-institution and get an actual answer"

Be a great calmer of flame wars about OLPC News.

I work at OLPC, so I usually know the right person to ask to get an answer. On rare occasions when I'm on the road with limited connectivity and only have a few minutes at a hotspot to send off a question, I send it to

Questions send there that can be answered constructively are. Some questions, especially provocative ones, may not be have any appropriate official answer.

As for Pixel Qi, they seem to be working hard to make the screen available to everyone; if adoption is held up by anything it is the necessities of launching a new business and production line. The company is good enough to share those hurdles on its blog. Today they announced they've started production (, and will be announcing their first partners before January's CES. I can't wait.

By the way - you might include a link to the pixelqi blog when you write about them. It's worth a visit for the pictures alone.

"Today they announced they've started production (, and will be announcing their first partners before January's CES."

Wow! Multi-touch, secrecy (no news from Pixel Qi since June practically) announcement _after_ Macworld, Tablet product... It does sound like the screen for the new Apple Tablet!!!
And they do not say anything about announcing _before_ January...

This is sure going to make some waves :) Hopefully FOSS/OLPC/Sugar will get some benefit out of it.