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Toshiba's New Technology Brings Privacy to Public Viewing of LCDs and Gives Users Full Control over Angle of View

12 December, 2003


Assures Personal Privacy When Using Digital Mobile Devices or ATM

Toshiba's New Technology Brings Privacy to Public Viewing of LCDs and Gives Users Full Control over Angle of View

Tokyo -- Toshiba Corporation today announced a new technology that cuts the viewing angle of liquid crystal displays and that bolsters personal privacy when viewing displays or entering data into touch-screen displays in public places. The technology will also allows users of personal devices, such as mobile phones, to set the angle of view for themselves, so that it can be widened to accommodate more people or narrowed to exclude people.

In an age where ATMs are a fact of life, where touch-screen displays are increasingly used to provide information and services and in electronic voting, and where mobile phones, PDAs and portable PCs are routinely used to transmit and share images and text, people spend more and more time looking at LCDs, often in public. Long established concerns about the security of entering PIN numbers in ATMs are now being reinforced by the need to assure personal privacy in situations as diverse as entering personal data on a touch-screen, reading documents on a PC, or looking at digital images or video-mail on a mobile phone.

Attempts to assure user privacy, usually in the form of a screen filter to darken the display when it is looked at from the side, have so far met little real success, as they also darken the screen for the user.

Toshiba's new technology assures privacy through the combination of a unique filter placed on the display area and a small circuit built into the display controller that aligns the pixels in the LCD. When this is activated, anyone viewing a display from the side sees a reticulate pattern, not the bright, clear image enjoyed by the user. Moreover, the viewing angle can be controlled by the user, widened or narrowed with a simple control, so the number of people able to view the display can be increased or decreased.

Another feature of the new technology is that filters can customized. Instead of the reticulate pattern, they can be designed to display images, including logos and characters. Used with an ATM, for example, filters could be designed to display an ad when the ATM is not in use.

Depending on the arrangement of their pixels, LCDs are either darker or brighter when viewed from an angle. Toshiba's new technology makes use of this characteristic and orders the pixels in different directions to create the reticulate pattern when viewed from either side.

In recent years, LCD research has centered on development of brighter LCDs, particularly for LCDs used in flat panel TVs, with an emphasis on overcoming the darkening that accompanies viewing LCDs from the side. In this development project, Toshiba instead asked how the darkening could be put to good use, and arrived at this unique technology.

Toshiba Electronic Engineering Corporation, a Toshiba subsidiary whose activities include development and design of new electron devices, will commercialize the new technology on a global basis, and expects to start marketing in the latter half of fiscal year 2004.


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