Burn In

In an attempt to rid ourselves of domineering phone companies1, Reiko and I picked up a pair of unlocked devices in May of 2016. As one would expect, these devices have seen quite a bit of usage. What I didn’t expect, though, was that my screen would one day have all the signs of burn in; a condition where pixels on a screen are damaged as a result of displaying a bright image for too long. What exactly has caused this problem? The keyboard.

Unless the screen is showing some sort of video the keys for the English keyboard are always visible as an echo overtop whatever night be the intended image. The last time I had this problem it was on an old 15” LCD display from 1999 which had the [email protected] screensaver2 outline permanently visible. None of the tricks to resolve the problem worked, so I wound up sending the thing off to be recycled before I moved to Vancouver a few years later.

This does make me wonder if this is a common issue among people who type a lot on their phones. In my case, the keyboard is open for an hour or two a day. I take notes, chat, and respond to with emails on the phone. Given the propensity for young people to be on their phones far more than the average adult, I did a quick search to see if this was a common issue only to find that not only is it common, but it can happen on new devices, too! I’ve clearly just been fortunate enough to either not have the issue or not notice it until recently.

Thank goodness for small favours.

This experience did raise an interesting question, though: could a phone’s digital assistant software listen well enough for a person to dictate an entire blog post and have it published? Would a person who may need to control their computer completely through voice be able to compose and publish a blog post? Are there blogging tools out there already that can handle this level of accessibility?

It’s something I’ll need to research, as this is something that I would like to have available.


  1. It’s only recently that a person in Japan can demand their phone be unlocked after a contract is complete, but phone companies can still refuse or otherwise make the process so complex that people give up. SoftBank is the worst for this, with Au being a close second.

  2. Yeah, the screensaver burned the pixels. That’s academic software for you in a nutshell.