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Qualcomm discovers sense of Iridigm

Snaps up next-gen display company

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Qualcomm is clearly thinking beyond the phone. The CDMA pioneer made a significant acquisition today, snapping up a San Francisco-based designer of light-modulated displays. Iridigm will cost Qualcomm $170 million. The former's iMoD, or Interferometric Modulator next-generation displays draw on from ambient light, and so consumer much less power than conventional TFTs. Currently LCD manufacturing processes and materials are used in the manufacture of iMoD displays - they use glass, like today's LCDs - but eventually, Iridigm reckons, iMoDs will be manufacturered using cheaper materials such as plastic. This will permit higher resolutions and cheap custom shapes to be ordered.

Qualcomm already owned 14 per cent of the company; and Intel Capital had also invested. In a canned statement, Qualcomm's EVP Paul Jacobs pointed out that many conventional unwired devices (such as this) are gradually becoming wireless enabled (rather like this). With demand already producing some interesting hybrids, (like this.)

Two thirds of Qualcomm's business is licensing chipsets, while the remainder from its patent portfolio. Iridigm isn't the only patent holder in the field, but the acquisition gives the San Diego company some intriguing new options. ®

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