An illuminating subject

Nick Myall
Tuesday 08 Dec 2015

‘Smart Glass’, a touchscreen material, uses electrical pulses to create vivid, hi-tech displays that require no power

A new smart material that promises to slash the energy required to power a smartphone screen has been developed in Oxford, UK. At present more than 90% of the battery power in a mobile device is used to illuminate its display.

‘Smart Glass’ a touchscreen material, invented by Bodie Technologies, a University of Oxford spin-off company, is based on the technology that is used for rewritable DVDs.

The material uses electrical pulses to create vivid, hi-tech displays that require no power and can be viewed clearly, even in direct sunlight.

Dr Peiman Hosseini, founder of the company, has secured an undisclosed amount of seed finance from the Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) fund, the university’s innovation investment arm, which commands £320m in growth capital.

“We can create an entire new market,” claimed Dr Hosseini. “You have to charge smartwatches every night, which is slowing adoption. But if you had a smartwatch or smart glass that didn’t need much power, you could recharge it just once a week.”

The material can also be used to create smart windows, a market that will be worth $2bn by 2017.

In clever glazing, the material can block infrared waves to keep buildings cool without air-conditioning, Dr Hosseini explained, saving 20% on energy costs.

The company has developed a low-cost manufacturing method, which could produce prototypes within 12 months.

Dr Hosseini, 32, who has been supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, claimed the technology could be used to create unfakeable holograms in the battle against counterfeits – a £1.1 tn industry.

The OSI was established by Oxford University and ISIS Innovation, its spin-out arm, to help commercialise maths, physics and life sciences research.

Oxford University boasts a number of spinouts valued in excess of £200m, including Oxford Nanopore Technologies and NaturalMotion. Other success stories include AIM and Nasdaq-listed companies such as Velocys and Oxford Immunotec.

“This is the right moment to be an academic at Oxford,” Mr Hosseini said.

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Nick Myall

News Editor

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