Archive for the ‘liquavista’ tag
Amazon recently purchased Liquavista’s electrowetting display technology from Samsung. Amazon apparently tried to make the acquisition undercover but Nate the Great Detective at The Digital Reader ferreted it out.
Of the several reflective color displays I have seen, I have perhaps the fondest memories of Liquavista’s solution. I was a fan of Mirasol until I got to play with an actual ereading demo, which was rather disappointing. Liquavista’s display does not feature the bright and vibrant colors of a backlit LCD display, but rather reminds me of the colors of an older comic book. It resemble a printed color page better than most other reflective displays I have seen.
Does this mean that a color Kindle ereader using an electrowetting display is on the horizon? Well, I wouldn’t hold my breath, but with the technology now an Amazon property I think it has a much better chance of actually hitting store shelves, probably within the next couple of years. If and when it does I will be at the head of the line when Amazon starts taking orders.
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Next Issue continues to get better. Rolling Stone and Us Weekly have just been added to the all-you-can-eat digital magazine app. Both of these magazines are available in both the iOS and Android versions of the digital newsstand app. Access to Us Weekly, like other weeklies, requires the Premium tier subscription.
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The Google Play Books app has been updated and now allows users to upload their own PDF or ePub book files into the cloud and read them on all of their devices. The Library, TOC and recommendation pages have also been redone.
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We may see a color ereader based on electrowetting display technology next year, according to Johan Feenstra, CEO of Samsung LCD Netherlands R & D Center (SNRC), who spoke at an event in the Netherlands yesterday. According to Feenstra, the display is ready for mass production. Samsung acquired the technology when it bought Liquavista at the beginning of 2011.
Personally, I preferred the appearance of the electrowetting display demos over the Mirasol displays I saw at CES. The colors were somewhat muted and not as vibrant, but the electrowetting displays looked better suited to ereading to me. Of course, a successful ereader is not just a shiny piece of hardware — it must be supported by a plentiful and competitively priced source of ebooks. If the display is used in an ereader that is connected to the Nook Store or in a color Kindle it could be successful in the North American market.
Or could it? Most users who want color seem to be happy with LCD displays which, with their more vibrant colors, are better suited for use with video and photos, gaming and other uses where color is important. Color is less important to long-form readers. I think this might be a tough sell now, at least in the US. If Liquavista could have launched this display in a pre-iPad (not to mention pre-Nook Color and Kindle Fire) world I think it probably would have had a much better chance of success.
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Samsung recently acquired Liquavista, the Dutch company that is developing a reflective color display based on electrowetting. Yesterday Samsung held the opening ceremony for the Samsung LCD Netherlands R&D Center (SNRC), which will be dedicated to developing electrowetting display technology as well as other new display technology.
The press release:
On February 15, 2011, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. held the opening ceremony of the Samsung LCD Netherlands R&D Center (SNRC) to strengthen its technology portfolio for the next generation display and its R&D capability in Europe. SNRC, as Samsung’s European display R&D center, will focus on developing future display technology including Electrowetting Displays (EWD).
Over 60 executives and staff members of Samsung Electronics and SNRC attended the opening ceremony, including the president of LCD Business Wonkie Chang CEO of SNRC Johan Feenstra and the senior vice president of the LCD Business Jootae Moon.
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There have been reports over the past couple of days by eReaders.nl that Samsung has acquired Liquavista. Today Liquavista released a press release confirming this:
January 20, 2011 – Eindhoven – Today, Liquavista BV., announced that it has been acquired by Samsung Electronics in a buyout of all shares from the past shareholders. Under the terms of this acquisition, Liquavista will be a fully owned affiliate of Samsung Electronics.
“We are thrilled by this event” said Johan Feenstra, Liquavista’s Founder and newly appointed CEO of Liquavista, “the outright acquisition of Liquavista by the largest electronics company in the world is the fulfillment of a strategy dating back to the original spin-out and, confirmation of the disruptive potential that our technology will have in the display market.”
The acquisition has also resulted in a number of changes in Liquavista’s management team. Johan Feenstra has succeeded Guy Demuynck as the company’s CEO .
“In the future, consumers will need products that not only support full color and video but offer readability in all lighting conditions and gives them ultimate freedom and portability.” Johan Feenstra added, “Being part of Samsung, we can all be sure that Electrowetting Display Technology will find its way to the market in the fastest possible time.”
Perhaps with Samsung backing the technology it will find its way to market sooner, at least one can hope. Reflective color displays have lots of potential uses besides ereaders (which market Samsung backed out of in the US after the Kindle and Nook price drops). Like Pixel Qi, Liquavista’s electrowetting displays can be made using existing LCD production facilities with some modifications.
In display demos I’ve seen, Liquavista’s display looks better than current color e-ink from E Ink Holdings and Bridgestone’s QR-LPD displays. Mirasol appears to trump all of them however, and should also get to market sooner than Liquavista.
Update: This is the press release from Samsung:
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., a global technology innovation and digital convergence leader, today announced it has acquired display technology firm Liquavista BV. Samsung completed the acquisition of Liquavista, based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in December 2010.
Liquavista, founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the Philips Research Labs, offers a new type of electronic display technology known as electrowetting for applications in e-readers, mobile phones, media players and other mobile devices.
The electrowetting technology, which operates in transmissive, reflective, transparent and transflective modes, enables the creation of displays with bright, colorful images with dramatically reduced power consumption. Offering more than twice the transmittance of LCD technology and able to operate at low frequencies, displays utilizing electrowetting consume just 10 percent of the battery power of existing display technologies.
With the acquisition of Liquavista, Samsung aims to expand its leadership in next generation display technologies by pioneering the application of electrowetting in e-Paper and transparent displays. As electrowetting can be manufactured by modifying existing LCD production lines, Samsung will be able to realize significant synergies through the utilization of existing manufacturing equipment and capabilities.
In e-paper applications, the response time of the electrowetting displays will be more than 70 times faster than that of existing reflective displays, allowing for color videos, which was previously thought impossible. In future, the application of the technology is expected to expand to transparent, transmissive and transflective displays.
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Liquavista today announced the creation of the first flexible electrowetting display prototype.
“We’re really excited to be able to demonstrate yet another significant benefit of electrowetting display technology with the development of these prototypes.” Said Guy Demuynck, CEO Liquavista. “Bringing to market a unique display that can run video in color at low power and has the added advantage of an unbreakable screen which is lightweight, thin, flexible and robust will enable consumer electronics manufacturers to increase the durability of devices, reduce manufacturing costs and create new product designs to open up new markets.
“This new prototype is a first important step in paving the way for high volume manufacture of displays on flexible substrates” added Johan Feenstra, Liquavista’s CTO and Founder, “This clearly demonstrates that electrowetting technology is not only compatible with standard glass substrates but can in fact be manufactured on any substrate. The pace at which we have been able to continue to show advanced technology features is further proof of the simplicity and versatility of our technology.”
Liquavista’s displays are based on the principles of electrowetting and bring bright and colourful images and video that ensures excellent indoor and outdoor readability but uses dramatically less battery power. The technology is uniquely suited for colour and video electronic paper displays because of its very high reflectivity and its intrinsically fast video-rate switching speed. It is ideal for manufacture on flexible substrates as it does not require high temperature processing, has no demanding encapsulation requirements and is independent on cell gap variations.
In the future, consumers will want products that not only support full color and video but offer readability in all lighting conditions and gives them the freedom and portability of paper. Liquavista’s displays possess all the features to fulfil this desire.
Below is a video form Liquavista of their flexible display prototype.
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Liquavista will be talking at FPD/SEP 2010 next month in Japan about the scalability and versatility of its electrowetting displays.
“We’ve chosen FPD Japan to talk about the scalability of electrowetting technology because now that the technology is on the verge of becoming available we feel that it’s critical to describe what is possible and to share this with the industry.” Said Johan Feenstra, Liquavista’s CTO & Founder. “We’ve already proven in prototype production that we can develop a variety of displays ranging from 1.8” to 8.5” diagonal and believe there is no physical limitation to the size of screen that can be developed using electrowetting technology.”
“Demonstrating the ability to make electrowetting panels for all display applications regardless of their screen size shows the clear vision that Liquavista has of the future.” Added Guy Demuynck, Liquavista’s CEO. “Pairing this flexibility in size with the versatility of the technology brings a compelling proposition for any manufacturer of electronic devices, regardless of the application. We have the manufacturer and consumer at the heart of our roadmap. In support of the commercial delivery of our product next year, we believe it’s important to deliver screens which can be used in any device from small scale mobile displays through to large scale outdoor screens.”
It is likely to be late next year before we begin to see products utilizing a Liquavista display.
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Notion Ink is looking for a new logo and is having a design competition to find the right one. They are offering a $1000 prize and an Adam Pixel Qi tablet (when released) for the winning design. The contest will end soon; for details see the Notion Ink blog.
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Digitimes reports that Google has notified its partners that the Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) OS will soon be ready and that engineering samples including those pertaining to tablets should be going out in December. This means that hopefully in H1 of next year we will see Android-based tablets that can access the Android Market out of the box.
Phandroid has a blurry photo of a phone running Android 3.0 in the wild and reports on some of the new features of the next iteration of the OS. One of the biggest appears to be support for video chat.
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Armdevices has a video of Liquavista displays outdoors in the sunlight. The displays are looking quite good, but Kurt Petersdorff of Liquavista says in the video that it will probably be the second half of 2011 before they are in production.
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Liquavista has released another press release – this time announcing that they have improved the power consumption of their electrowetting displays by scaling refresh rates. Unlike e-ink, which requires power to refresh the display but not to maintain an image once displayed, Liquavista’s display technology requires a constant trickle of power to maintain the image on the screen.
From the press release:
Today, Liquavista BV, announced a new dynamic frame rate capability down to frequencies as low as 1Hz, resulting in ultra-low power electrowetting display driving, aimed at providing the consumer with an even greater power advantage when using Liquavista’s displays.
“With more dynamic content electronic devices are struggling to keep up with the power demands of playing video & audio or web browsing, while providing a good reading experience at the same time.” added Johan Feenstra, Liquavista’s CTO. “Using our dynamic frame rate capability with intelligent power management, our displays dynamically adapt refresh rates to the content being viewed by the consumer, even down to frequencies as low as 1 Hz. This leads to even greater scales of power reduction without affecting optical performance. With such an increased battery life the consumer can become truly mobile.”
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Liquavista has announced that it has received another seven million Euros to continue developing its electrowetting displays. From the press release:
Eindhoven, 13 April, 2010 – Liquavista BV. today announced that it has successfully closed a Series D funding round from existing partners Amadeus Capital Partners, GIMV, Prime Technology Ventures and Applied Ventures. The additional funding is aimed at accelerating commercialisation and supporting Liquavista’s strategy to have products with Liquavista technology appearing on the market during 2011.
“This next round of funding is specifically aimed at enabling us to accelerate our commercialisation of next generation LCD2.0 displays.” stated Guy Demuynck, Liquavista’s CEO. “Our investors have been impressed with the enormous interest in Liquavista from players in the smart mobile device industry. Combined with very strong demand for our newly launched System Development Kits, this gave them the confidence to further support our drive into our main strategic markets in 2010.”
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I was able to spend about a day at CES this year. If you are a gadget boy/girl then going to CES is kind of like being a kid again in a mega toy store with a large candy department on the side. If ereaders are one of your most favorite gadgets, then being at this year’s CES was kind of like being Willy Wonka and getting a ticket to a chocolate factory.
One problem though, is that many of the gadgets one sees and gets to hopefully try out are prototypes and are not always fully functional as well as being subject to change (or cancellation). In some cases this seemed to be very true for ereaders this year. Many of the ereader demos only had a few public domain titles loaded, and a few had dead batteries from all of the handling.
I managed to break my camera while at CES (Spirit Guide: fortunately grasshopper could fix it when he was back home & had access to his mini tools), so some of the pics are taken with my cell phone – sorry!
Some of the booth designs are pretty amazing. The cell phone picture at the top, which is of Samsung’s walls of flat panel screens does not do it justice.
The picture at the left is of a large touch screen at Intel’s booth with 500 slowly spinning cubes, each of which represents a live website. If you touch one of the cubes a small detail window opens for a few seconds. All powered by a thumbnail-sized Intel chip. Have we left Kansas yet Toto?
eReaders at CES 2010
Plastic Logic Que
The display is quite good; newspapers look good on the Que. As you probably know by now, the Que display utilizes plastic rather than glass to create a shatterproof screen. Overall, the Que felt a bit too plastic to me. The bezel is a shiny acrylic or similar material, and I expect it to be very scratch prone. I think Plastic Logic would have done better to use a matte material.
The announced price of the Que ereader is somewhat stratospheric; $649 for a 4GB model with WiFi, and $799 for an 8GB model with both WiFi and 3G. At these prices it will probably be in pretty direct competition with the Apple iSlate.
Notion Ink Adam
Notion Ink’s Adam tablet is Android powered and is the first announced device to use Pixel Qi display technology. I really wanted to have a look at this, but the closest I could get was a non-powered demo in a glass case at the Nvidia booth.
According to an Nvidia booth-boy, the only working unit at CES was in the hands of Notion Ink Director Rohan Shravan, who was booked up giving private demonstrations with it. Liliputing.com was the happy recipient of one of these sessions and you can see their video and reviews.
Pixel Qi looks very promising. Engadget said in a post yesterday that they have been told that a manufacturer that “everyone is familiar with” will be announcing a Pixel Qi equipped device in 2010. Hmmm…wonder if the manufacturer alluded to has a name starting with the first letter of the alphabet and is named after a fruit or a river?
Also at the Nvidia booth was an unpowered (or maybe just the batteries were dead) Irex DR800SG ereader. I couldn’t do much with it as it had no power, but I still think that the design has promise; an 8-inch screen in a package that is the same overall size as a Kindle with 6-inch screen.
Still no idea when this will be released. There were some rumors of a mid-January release, but Irex seems to have a history of setting release dates that don’t materialize. There is still nothing on Best Buy’s website about the DR800SG.
Liquavista is one of the color display technologies that should be making its way into future ereaders. Liquavista is based on existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure. This display tech is capable of displaying color video while using very low power. It looks as though it won’t be integrated into an actual ereader that you can buy until possibly the end of 2010 or more likely early next year. Qualcomm has said that its Mirasol color display technology is on track to enter production in the fall of 2010, so it may be able to beat Liquavista to market by a few months, but of course we will have to wait and see.
The colors and video playback in the Liquavista reference designs displayed at CES were quite impressive. The display does look very paper-like.
iRiver is a Korean company best known for its portable music and video players. The Story is iRiver’s first foray into ereaders.
The Story has a chiclet style keyboard similar to the Kindle ereader. The display is a 6-inch e-ink screen. There is 2GB of internal memory plus an SD card slot. There should be an MS Office doc viewer as well as some sort of comics viewer. Adobe Digital Editions as well as non-DRM’ed epub should be among the supported file formats.
The Story ereader seemed to be solidly built, but other than the features noted above, there wasn’t anything that seemed to really differentiate it from the other ereaders out there. Refresh times and navigation seemed to be pretty much on par with other current ereaders. The price and availability has not been announced yet, but the Story was selling for about $290 in Korea. I don’t see this ereader being really competitive unless it is priced less than the Kindle or nook.
Both MSI and Asus have their dual LCD screened ereader concepts on display at CES, but these really seem like netbooks with two screens rather than ereaders. Perhaps if the screens were to use Pixel Qi they would be more viable as ereaders. As laptop/netbooks, however, both could be quite good. The two screens can work separately or together as one larger screen, or one screen can serve up a virtual keyboard.
After Plastic Logic’s booth the enTourage Systems booth was probably the busiest ereader show at CES.
The Kindle Chronicles has a good CES interview and video of the eDGe in action.
My take is that while the eDGe with all of its study tools and bells and whistles would be good for students and their etextbooks or perhaps as a netbook replacement, it is obviously overkill for someone looking for just an ereader. It is rather bulky for reading in your bed or armchair. Also it appears that the eDGe ereader will be tied to enTourage’s ebook store for DRM’ed ebooks. Currently enTourage claims to have 200,000 ebooks in addition to the usual Google public domain suspects.
At a price of almost $500 the eDGe is more expensive than most netbooks as well. Still, it is the most interesting multipurpose “ereader” that I’ve seen yet. A lot of thought obviously went into its development, and the eDGe is capable of doing just about anything you would ask of it.