Sharp has developed software which allows LCDs (liquid crystal displays) to display more than one billion colours, the company said Thursday. Developers researched how human eyes perceive brightness and colours and applied their findings to one of the characteristics of an LCD – the fact that it can control brightness and the colour of each pixel. Current LCD hardware can hold up to 8 bits per RGB (red green and blue) level of colours, which are equivalent of 16.77 million colours, according to Heihachiro Ochiai, a spokesman for Sharp. The new technology makes these 8-bit RGB colours look like 10-bit RGB colours on a display, he said. The company, one of Japan's leading LCD manufacturers, plans to install software in LCDs within the next two to three years, hoping it will be adopted on LSI (large scale integrated circuit) chips, or to license it to other makers, Ochiai said. Recently, computer software developers such as Microsoft have been developing software with 10 to 12 bits per RGB level of colours that cannot be displayed on the current LCDs, said Ochiai. Using this new development, users will be able to see the displays generated by the software in full colours. Software can also be used in the areas LCDs have not been able to cover before. For example, X-ray pictures, which are reproduced on films in order to show smooth and detailed greyscale gradations, will be able to be displayed on LCDs. With current technologies, digital data can hold 13 to 15 bits of colours at a maximum. Sharp's software will allow these colours to be displayed so that moving images such as movies via broadband distribution, which are expected to be available more often in the near future in Japan, can have richer colours, said Ochiai.