The Microsoft-developed display is essentially an electronic post-it note

Display powered by office lights being developed by Microsoft

Image credit: Microsoft

Microsoft engineers are developing a display powered by photovoltaic technology that can generate enough energy from indoor lighting to allow the device to run indefinitely.

The display, essentially a digital Post-it note, uses low-resolution e-paper 35 times more energy efficient than small high-resolution displays. Thanks to such low energy requirements, it can work indefinitely even in indoor environments with low lighting levels.

The display can receive updates via Bluetooth Low-Energy every 1 to 25 minutes, depending on lighting levels. It can be used to display time, weather information or just random reminders. Once an update is received, it is displayed within a few seconds. Updates can be sent from tablets or computers.

As it doesn’t require charging, it can be placed absolutely anywhere, the researchers said in the paper ‘Exploring the Design Space for Energy-Harvesting Situated Displays’ presented at the User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) conference earlier this month.

In a video, the researchers presented the display stuck to a computer screen and on a window facing indoors. The window position was the most suitable for frequent updates, allowing data transmission to be completed every 33 seconds.

The display uses relatively few large pixels to save power. It is fitted with a thin flexible panel on the back, which is attached to a thin-film battery.

The technology, which is currently at prototype stage, is being developed by Microsoft Research in cooperation with the University of Washington, Seattle.

The researchers said the displays could eventually be used for vision-based tracking to support augmented reality applications.

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