Device manufacturers yet to see the light

26 Jun 2007

Poorly lit screens on digital devices when used outside are creating bad feelings among users, a survey has found, with 44pc of respondents feeling misled by the advertising for the products which showed them being used outdoors.

Some 83pc of respondents to the UK survey admitted they have had problems seeing the screens of mobile phones, digital cameras, TVs and laptop or desktop computers in some light conditions. Some 75pc said they have had to block out natural daylight in some situations to see the screens; 61pc said they have had to resort to shielding mobile phone screens with their hand in order to read text messages or see an image that has been received.

Some 60pc of users felt restricted about where they could use their mobile device and 57pc felt frustrated that they were unable to use the full functionality within the device as a result of not being able to see the screen clearly. A further 54pc complained that the automatic switch-off of the artificial light after a short time was irritating.

The research, carried out by Liquavista BV, which specialises in electrowetting displays for mobile devices, found that 54pc of respondents would consider an upgrade to a mobile device whose screen could be viewed clearly in all light conditions if it was available. Some 31pc said they would be more likely to subscribe to additional services such as mobile TV, email and internet access, and 24pc said they would pay a premium for such a product – this rose to 26pc if the visibility enhancement had no effect on battery life.

“Consumers are right to argue that the technology running behind today’s displays isn’t at a satisfactory level,” commented Mark Gostick, CEO of Liquavista. “It’s not good enough anymore to expect users to interact with a ‘mobile’ device only from behind closed curtains or with one hand over the screen the block the natural light.”

Gostick said industry was already looking at these problems. “The next generation of displays will not only use 90pc less power than today’s but they are also guaranteed to be visible in all lighting conditions, inside or out. This is great news for demanding consumers who know what they need from emerging mobile technologies in order to improve productivity or create a more balanced work-life structure in having the flexibility of a varied working environment.”

Liquavista was founded in 2006 by a team which originates from Philip Research Labs in Eindhoven. The company is now backed by Philips, New Venture Partners, GIMV and Amadeus Capital.

The research involved interviews with 1,004 adults in the UK.

By Niall Byrne