A smartphone's tiny screen relies on the strange properties of liquid crystals. Check out Groupon's study of LCDs to learn how they create the vivid pictures in your pocket.
The term liquid crystal seems a contradiction, but a liquid crystal is actually neither a liquid nor a solid?it's both, stuck in a sort of chemical limbo with its molecules somewhere between the liquid and solid phases. When an electrical current passes through a liquid crystal, its molecular orientation changes, and so does the direction of light that passes through it. By sandwiching these crystals between polarized glass and manipulating the current passing through them, your phone is able to control the light they channel, resulting in the high-contrast images that appear on screen. Although our brains only see each pixel as a single dot, each consists of red, blue, and green subpixels that, when lit at various intensities, can emit more than 16 million colors.
Despite their advanced applications, liquid crystals are not a recent discovery. They were first identified in the late 19th century by a scientist studying cholesterol extracted from carrots?a natural source of liquid crystals, as are human beings and most other living things, which tend to have them in their cell membranes. Liquid crystals and LCDs were the subject of research and patent applications throughout the early 20th century?including one filed by Marconi?s Wireless Telegraph Company in 1936?and finally hit consumer electronics in the early 1970s, when they were introduced in wristwatches.
At Cell Phones and More, clients browse phones and accessories from carriers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Boost, Cricket, and Virgin Mobile. Onsite technicians can reignite the healthy glow of a damaged smartphone screen or rekindle connections between computers and the Internet. Staffers can unlock phones, allowing devices to switch carriers without losing functionality or running away from home in search of their old signals. The shop also buys gently used cell phones and dishes out servings of prepaid minutes.
uBreakiFix CEO Justin Wetherill spoke with Groupon about the importance of protecting your smartphone and the challenges of fixing a phone that has been dropped into a deep fryer.
On the worst thing you can do after cracking your smartphone?s glass screen
?Don?t just put it into your pocket and continue to use it,? Wetherill says. The broken glass can actually cause serious damage to the phone?s inner components and turn a relatively simple fix into a costly repair job.
On the repair process
"Look, this is something we do every day," Wetherill says. "You are not the first person to break a phone.? Collectively, uBreakiFix's highly trained technicians repair more than 20,000 devices a month, drawing from a library of high-quality parts that are tested twice before they ever get used in a repair service. Free diagnostics are a staple at all uBreakiFix locations, so customers understand the problem before any work is done.
On growing his business
uBreakiFix began as a business based out of Wetherill?s living room, and it now boasts more than 60 locations nationwide. ?We are proof that the American dream is alive,? he says.
On unusual repair jobs
Wetherill remembers one fast-food employee who dropped her phone into a restaurant?s deep fryer. ?It smelled pretty bad,? he said; however, the repairs were successful. Another customer lost his phone in a cement mixer. After some serious effort, the technicians were able to safely recover all of the important data, but the phone died a few hours later. As Wetherill pointed out, ?it did go through a cement mixer.? Some miracles just aren?t meant to be.
On the importance of a one-day turnaround time
Repairs at uBreakiFix?s store locations can often take as little as an hour, according to Wetherill. This is a critical part of the shops' focus ? something Wetherill personally understands. If forced to choose between spending the weekend without his smartphone or his left arm, he jokes that he would pick the arm. ?Of course, this is assuming that there wouldn?t be any pain,? he laughs.
At the ripe age of 8 years old, Steven Teague began fiddling with his uncle’s Hewlett-Packard computer, sparking a deep interest in computers that eventually led the tech-savvy kid to found his own help center, Crucial Computers LLC. Today, Teague offers computer troubleshooting, repairs, and installations for a variety of systems; he even goes so far as to provide same-day and afterhours services in cases of emergency. From configuring wireless networks to to setting up newly purchased computer systems, Steve can not only handle it all, but also teach it. The shop offers hands-on computer-building classes, with each session capped at 10 students for attentive instruction.
iJunkiez repairs cracked and broken screens on iPhones, iPods, and iPads with a quick turnaround. For customers who have grown bored of their devices' looks, iJunkiez can also convert the shell to a different color, changing white or black phones into lime, royal blue, and bubblegum pink.