3M Buys Shares In Pixel Qi, Aiming At iPad 2 Clones?

3M will invest in Pixel Qi, the startup that wants to bring cheap screens that are readable in direct sunlight and sturdy enough to be used in a tablet for third world users.

The funding, led by 3M new ventures, will allow Pixel Qi to develop new products and accelerate the rollout of its next generation solutions like digital signage and touch applications to new markets.

Pixel Qi's most prestigious product is the OLPC laptop, which has seen worldwide shipments of three million units over the past few years.

Not much is known about the short term plans of Pixel Qi but the three-year-old small startup headed by Dr Mary Lou Jepsen demoed a 10.1-inch screen back in May 2011.

This could be used to power ebook readers and even ultra-light tablets. The other advantage of Pixel Qi's technology is that power consumption is reduced to a minimum, which in turn cuts down on the weight of the battery and therefore allows for thinner & lighter products.

Chinese telco giant ZTE told us back in March that Pixel Qi technology would be used in the Light 2 with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels.

It will be interesting to see whether 3M decides to buy Pixel Qi outright in the near future given the prospects and the goodwill the company enjoys amongst the tech community.