News and Coverage

Low-Cost, Low-Power Computing

Location: Imperial Ballroom Level: Novice
Average rating: ****.
(4.18, 17 ratings)

The key to developing low-cost computing in developing markets is power consumption. An often overlooked aspect of that is the screen. Mary Lou Jepsen, former CTO of the OLPC, has started a new company aimed at a low-cost, low-power screen. She will share insights gained in manufacturing, developing, and deploying this new technology.

Photo of Mary Lou Jepsen

Mary Lou Jepsen

Pixel Qi

Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen was recently named one of the hundred most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in May 2008 for her work in creating Pixel Qi, and her previous work at One Laptop per Child where she was the founding chief technology officer. Notably Mary Lou invented the laptop’s sunlight-readable display technology and co-invented its ultra-low-power management system. Critically, she transformed these inventions into ready-to-ship hardware, integrated into the XO laptop. Mary Lou convinced some of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers to create the XO with her, and she created and managed the relationships between OLPC and them. She was responsible for all of the OLPC hardware, mechanicals, electronics, display, integration, manufacturating, certification, and environmental footprint reduction during her tenure at OLPC.

The XO laptop is the lowest-cost laptop ever made, the lowest-power laptop ever made, and the most environmentally friendly laptop ever made. It has received numerous awards, drawn widespread global attention, and spurred the new class of compact laptop – which is expected to grow to over 50 million units by 2010.

Mary Lou’s earlier contributions have had world-wide adoption in successful HDTV, projector and head-mounted display products. She has been a pioneer in single-panel field-sequential projection display systems and liquid-crystal-on-silicon system-on-chip devices. She co-founded the first company whose sole effort was development of microdisplays in 1995 (The Microdisplay Corporation) and served as its chief technology officer through 2003. Until the end of 2004, she was a group executive and the chief technology officer of the display division at Intel Corporation.

Mary Lou holds a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (with honors) and a B.A. (req.) in Studio Art all from Brown University as well as a Master of Science in Holography from the MIT Media Lab.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Picture of Marla Parker
Marla Parker
03/11/2009 8:05am PDT

This was a great talk. I’d never heard Mary Lou speak before, but I own an XO. It was especially good because she is not a super dynamic speaker, as some rare geeks-who-speak are. She ended her talk with “thank you and, um, ....” so we applauded. So I give her 5 stars not for smooth talking but for amazing SUBSTANCE! It was great. THANKS.

Picture of Jason DeBoer-Moran
Jason DeBoer-Moran
03/10/2009 3:25pm PDT

I really enjoyed the pyramid diagram for innovation at the bottom. Excellent concept!

Picture of Alasdair Allan
Alasdair Allan
03/10/2009 5:17am PDT

I live blogged the Tuesday morning keynote, including this talk.

  • Sun Microsystems
  • Yahoo! Inc.
  • IEEE
  • Make magazine
  • Orange Labs