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New display tech could make mobiles "glanceable"

We hesitate to bring up anything to do with the ongoing debacle that is SPOT, but the guys over at Microsoft's most left-of-center division helped popularize the concept of "glanceable" information -- ubiquitous, high-demand data (weather reports, for instance) that can be gleaned quickly and with little or no user input. Cellphones, despite the fact that they have ready access to such data, have been largely left out of the party; always-on displays are a backbone of the glanceable concept, and the dazzling, hi-res screens necessary to keep the modern consumer entertained drain far too much power to be left on when no one is interacting with the device. Manufacturers have taken baby steps to solving the power problem by introducing OLEDs, but more is needed. Qualcomm, when it's not busy filing lawsuits, has been working on its iMoD (short for Interferometric Modulator) technology, which uses an array of microscopic mirrors to stay highly visible in well-lit conditions. Meanwhile, Philips spin-off Liquavista is taking the electrowetting approach. Either way, we're all for always-on cellphone displays that afford us more than a few hours of standby, but both groups have yet to name any commercial devices in the pipeline. In the meantime, there's still a chance to jump on the glanceable bandwagon -- grab a handful of Ambient Orbs, turn down the lights, and soak in the psychadelic data.