Daylight DC-1 Tablet: The Promise Of A Great Everyday Computer That Doesn’t Cost You Your Health

Karan Kamble

Jun 11, 2024, 11:05 AM | Updated 11:05 AM IST

The Daylight DC-1 tablet as it appears in the launch video
The Daylight DC-1 tablet as it appears in the launch video
  • Daylight's DC-1 tablet promotes better focus and well-being with a flicker-free, blue-light-free, paper-like screen.
  • In late May, a new type of computer was unveiled. It’s a Kindle-meets-iPad tablet whose USP is that it’s healthier to use. It fits right in with the emerging technology releases over the last year that propose healthier alternatives to what’s currently available on the market.

    The addictive nature of smartphones, tablets, and laptops has become a worry in recent years, and some technology companies are innovating on various fronts to bring about a change in the paradigm.

    The last year or so saw the launches, for instance, of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital assistants like the Humane Ai Pin and the Rabbit r1, both of which in some way present a vision of the world beyond the smartphone. They emerged principally because smartphones as they exist now are based around applications and interfaces that hook the user in and keep them chained to the screen.

    In contrast, the Pin goes on the shirt and the r1 in the pocket, and in both cases the wearer interacts with the device chiefly through speech — unlike on the smartphone where the eyes and fingers are engaged frequently. The promise of these next-generation devices is that the eyes and hands, and more importantly, mind space, are freed up for better, hopefully more beneficial, use in everyday life.

    The newest computer, Daylight, is released with a similar spirit. Although it doesn’t experiment with the form factor — the DC-1 looks like any regular tablet, though probably prettier — the tablet’s internal design is meant to make the device less attention-seeking, less distracting, less harmful to the eyes, and therefore more beneficial for the mind and body, while serving as a tool for creativity, knowledge, and expression.

    ‘It does less so you can be more’ is the essence, as expressed in the beautifully shot launch video. Perhaps, less is more in this age of proliferation.

    On its good-looking website, the Daylight Computer Co describes its debut device DC-1 as “a new kind of computer, designed for deep focus and wellbeing” and “a healthier, more human-friendly computer.”

    “We refuse to accept a future where our devices are exhausting, addictive, and distracting,” the startup states, powered chiefly by the beliefs and vision of its founder and chief executive officer, Anjan Katta.

    Coming from a family of doctors, Katta aspired to make an impact in health. He was at Stanford University between 2012 and 2016 trying to come up with new medical technology, but, by his own admission in interviews, they all came to nought. Disillusioned, he went backpacking for a couple of years.

    Based on his experiences with technology and the human experience during this time, such as finding it tedious to use a laptop outdoors in broad daylight and lush greenery, and finally reading that one Leo Tolstoy book that he had been putting off on a flight with no digital entertainment options available, thereby realising the profound importance of a change in environment, Katta set off on his entrepreneurial journey in 2018.

    His personal struggles with seasonal affective disorder, due to which he experienced depression during the winters, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) kept him going on the path of building healthier technology.

    For six years, he worked to bring the Daylight DC-1 to the public, and now here it is.

    The device is free of the blue light that beams out through traditional screens (not on the Kindle). Prolonged exposure to high-energy visible light causes eye strain and possibly eye damage over the long run and disrupts sleep patterns by inhibiting the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. Doing away with the blue light, as the DC-1 does, is much needed.

    Katta’s tablet computer is also flicker-free. Flicker on traditional digital screens is caused by rapid on-and-off cycling of the display's backlight. Similar to blue-light screens, flicker causes eye strain and headaches, and hampers sleep quality and productivity. Daylight has used a dimming technology completely free of pulse-width modulation (PWM) flicker in their flagship product.

    The black-and-white device also works in full daylight — from where the company gets its name — so that one can comfortably work outdoors, bathed in full-spectrum natural light. The screen uses the sun as its backlight. In fact, the company claims that the screen is even more visible in the direct sun. At night, the amber glow from the screen keeps the eye at ease.

    Founder Anjan Katta provided a glimpse on X of how good PDFs look on the tablet
    Founder Anjan Katta provided a glimpse on X of how good PDFs look on the tablet

    Perhaps, Katta’s biggest innovation on the DC-1 is the use of a new screen technology. Committed to featuring a digital screen that would allow the use of his computer outdoors, the entrepreneur stumbled upon an old screen technology from Japan that the display industry didn’t have use for any more. It turned out to be the key to Daylight's innovative display.

    The result is the “world’s first full-speed, paper-like display.” It is similar to E-Ink, but runs faster, at 60 frames per second (fps) — and the next version will see a bump up to 120 fps. They call it Live Paper. It looks and feels like paper, judging by the videos put out by the company, and doesn’t lag the way you see with paper-like displays, such as on the Kindle. The 10.5-inch screen is supposed to be “super-smooth” to scroll, zoom, or interact with in any way.

    The tablet also features a custom Android operating system (OS) called Sol:OS. It is designed to be distraction-free, clean, and intuitive. All the Android apps are on the device.

    The 550-gram device comes with a Wacom EMR passive stylus to fulfil writing needs. As for the specifications, the DC-1 features a 1600 x 1200 resolution, an 8 GB RAM, 128 GB storage, a MediaTek Helio G99 CPU, and an 8,000 mAh battery that is claimed to last days on a single charge.

    It comes with stereo speakers and a microphone, as well as the standard fare of connectivity options — Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, USB Type-C with PD, a MicroSD slot, and pogo pins.

    Daylight plans to work on building a healthier phone, as well. But it will depend on the success of the DC-1 tablet, which is currently in the pre-order phase. Four batches of the computer have been sold out, and orders are now being taken for the fifth one, the last batch for 2024.

    Katta describes Daylight, whose vision “is to build a whole ecosystem of healthier, more humane computers that respect our health, attention, and freedom,” as a public benefit corporation (PBC). Any PBC comes into being with the aim to generate social and public good, and operate responsibly while doing so.

    Daylight has ‘a civil duty to uphold their public benefit purpose,’ believes Katta, which is “to help technology and humanity live happily ever after.”

    Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.

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