Amazon have got the eReader market all sewn up with the popularity of their E-Ink Kindle line, and with the continued success of the company’s LCD screen Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD tablet line, many thought that the rumoured colour Kindle eReaders had died the death. However, Amazon’s latest purchase of display technologies company Liquavista has ignited those rumours once again.
Liquavista (a Samsung subsidiary once owned by Philips) create screens that, despite being full colour, are far more readable in bright light than LCD displays, which suffer from excessive glare in direct sunlight, making them all but unusable. Liquavista screens come far closer to the matte visibility of E-Ink displays, using a technique called electrowetting.
Electowetting uses different voltages to push liquid “pixels” around a display, a similar technique to that seen in LCD. But whereas with an LCD the voltage changes the opacity of the liquid crystal, electrowetting system have beads of black oil that replaces the crystals. Light to shines through with red, blue, and green subpixels used in tandem to create the required colour.
Beyond the clarity of the displays, they’ve got an added benefit of greatly reduced power consumption over LCD.
It is thought that Samsung’s interest in the Liquavista displays waned as its own AMOLED technology grew in popularity and usability.
Liquavista have also been able to make the displays in such a way that introducing them to existing products would be fairly straightforward, with a simple process for manufacturing plants to swap out E-Ink or LCD components.
Amazon’s purchase certainly suggests they haven’t given up on the idea of a colour eReader device, one that bridges the gap between the flexibility of the Kindle Fire line and the readability and battery life of their eReader line-up. Though Amazon haven’t yet revealed how or even if the technology will be implemented in their devices, it’s looking as though colour eReaders could indeed soon be on the way.