This is fantastic news for anyone who's ever wanted a device with a high-res display but can't afford fancy hardware like the iPhone or iPad. Floraine Berthouzoz and Raanan Fattal, a couple of graphics researchers, have found a way to make crappy low-res displays show high-res imagery.
And the secret is to simply vibrate them.
OK, so there's a lot more to it than that, but the clever discovery basically takes advantage of the way our eyes will blend multiple moving images together. To display a high-res image on a screen with significantly less resolution, the image is first broken down into several smaller images matching the display's native res. These images are then flashed in quick succession while the screen is rapidly but subtlety vibrated. Not enough vibration that the viewer gets dizzy, but enough motion so that the multiple images are never displayed in exactly the same position.
When the viewer's mind automatically blends all of the images together, they end up seeing an image that has considerably more resolution and detail than the display is capable of showing. So one day all smartphone screens might be just as capable as the iPhone without actually requiring that fancy retina display. [Floraine Berthouzoz]