Samsung has not been doing much with the Liquavista color e-paper it purchased in 2011 and instead has been focusing on screens for its tablet and smartphone line. The company has been actively trying to sell off its investment to companies for the last two years, with not many showing interest. Amazon has confirmed today that it has acquired the technology and we are likely to see a true color e-reader within the next calendar year.
I spoke to Kurt Petersdorff, the Commercial Director of Liquavista, around a year ago to find out what made this e-paper different than e-Ink. The essence of Electrowetting technology is that it is highly scalable. From a manufacturing point of view, it is easy for existing LCD plants to incorporate Electrowetting into its process. It is basically the same entire procedure to create the screen, except instead of using Liquid Crystals they use a different fill. One of the huge benefits of Liquavista technology is that it is flexible, which means it is much more robust. It is similar to the same type of display that LG uses in the Wexler Flex One. If you have ever dropped an iPad or an iPhone, you know the LCD glass breaks rather easily because it is extremely inflexible.
Amazon confirmed the acquisition by email today, stating “We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term. The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays.”
Below is an exclusive video where Samsung and Liquavista talked about the e-reader industry and what their technology actually does. We will be hearing a lot more about this in the coming months, as inevitable rumors of new Amazon products gain traction.
Michael Kozlowski is the editor-in-chief at Good e-Reader and has written about audiobooks and e-readers for the past fifteen years. Newspapers and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times have picked up his articles. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.