Fujitsu develops new font display technology

Fujitsu Ltd.'s research and development (R&D) center has developed software to display small letters legibly on compact devices such as cell phones and PDAs (personal digital assistants), the company announced last week.

Fujitsu's technology is particularly suitable for double-byte languages, such as Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Hangul, according to Nobuaki Usui, chief researcher of the input and output research division of Fujitsu. As it can display small double-byte language fonts, for example, it allows characters used in Japanese "kana" text to be represented in a clear and readable fashion, Fujitsu's statement said.

Usually, a colored pixel on a computer screen is represented with a mixture of three primary colors -- red, green and blue (RGB). In a flat-panel display, each pixel is made up of three vertical strips, each representing one of these three colors. As letters are formed using many of these pixels, the smaller the letters get, the more distorted the edges of the letter appear on a screen. Up till now, this problem was solved by using gray-scale, changing the density of each pixel's blackness. However, this technique sacrifices the sharpness of a letter's edge.

Fujitsu's solution to this problem is to treat each color strip as an individual pixel to give finer control over the contours of a letter. The letters will have red, green or blue edges, but these will be imperceptible to the human eye. As the technology doesn't need to combine three strips to make up one color, can treat each color strip independently and offers 256-scale color for each pixel strip, Usui said.

Also, as Fujitsu technology controls the brightness of each color strip next to the pixel, this enables it to accurately display the contours on the edge of a letter.

This means that rendering jagged parts of a complex letter or symbol, such as a Chinese character, can be done more clearly by contouring its shape with a color strip rather than surrounding the letter with combined colors of pixels, especially when the letter gets smaller.

Fujitsu hopes its font display technology will be adopted by makers of mobile devices, such as PDAs and cell phones, Usui said. On a PDA screen, which normally has a maximum resolution of 100 dpi (dots per inch), Fujitsu's font display technology can display text as small as five-point size in a readable style, he said.

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Kuriko Miyake

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