Ambient contrast ratio is a newer specification that people are just starting to use for applications with displays. It is extremely important as it is dependent on where people are using their devices.
Historically, contrast ratio has been used to measure how bright the light is compared to the blackest of the black on the display. When you see contrast ratio on a display spec sheet, it typically is going to be measured in a dark room. This is fine for televisions that are used indoors or a dark environment like a movie theater. However, the reality is that we have devices being used everywhere, our handheld devices are being taken outdoors in the bright sun and into much harsher conditions than previously possible. Contrast ratio doesn’t capture what really happens when devices are in a real use experience.
What we should be talking about is ~ Ambient Contrast Ratio
Ambient Contrast Ratio
While display technologies have typically been at a tug-of-war with ambient lighting – using more power to counteract it, or less power when it is not an issue – the newest displays incorporate “smart” technology that actually uses surrounding lighting rather than fighting it. Displays that employ an RLCD with front light – also known as LCD 2.0 – can make devices last longer by using the lighting in the environment. Developers should look beyond simple readability specs and consider the impact ambient lighting may have on their final product, and how the display might be affected in various conditions.
We know we’ve only just begun thinking of all the ways we can use screens to dramatically improve the quality of medical or industrial devices that need to work outdoors and hold a charge for a longer time. We know there are more consumer applications for adventure seekers ready to come out of their caves and explore, with help from weather and GPS technologies, and tablets that are ready to travel.