Candice Brown Elliott is founder and chief technology officer of Clairvoyante Inc. (Cupertino, Calif.), which develops and licenses unique subpixel architectures and associated algorithms to reduce the power, increase the brightness and lower the cost of manufacturing flat-panel displays. Its PenTile Matrix harnesses Elliott's knowledge of the human visual system to trick the eye into perceiving a display as twice as bright for the same power (or just as bright at half the power). By reducing by one-third to one-half the number of pixels needed for a given resolution, the company's PenTile subpixel rendering also lowers costs. PenTile Matrix technology has been licensed by 10 of the world's leading flat-panel makers, including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and AU Optronics Corp. EE Times' R. Colin Johnson caught up with Elliott at a recent display conference, where she revealed the specific aspects of the human visual system that Clairvoyante harnessed.
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How Clairvoyante fools eye
Subpixel technologies attempt to organize red, green, blue — and, exclusively with Clairvoyante Inc.'s PenTile — white subpixels into a matrix that can represent any color. Most flat panels use stripes of RGB subpixels; white can be made only by mixing equal amounts of red, green and blue — essentially, by turning on all three stripes. The technique, however, yields dimmer whites. PenTile adds a white subpixel and, instead of just stripes, uses a unique subpixel matrix that has an average of only two subpixels per pixel, instead of the normal three. More important, Clairvoyante has harnessed the physiology of the human eye-brain system. Based on this understanding, a set of algorithms for the company's driver chips makes the overall display appear higher in contrast, sharper and up to twice as bright as a standard display — or, alternatively, just as bright, but with half the power consumption. Intel Corp. has acquired a minority interest in Clairvoyante, and two manufacturers — Silicon Works (Daejon, South Korea) and Sitronix Technology Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) — have already begun fabricating PenTile Matrix driver chips for flat panels.