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Samsung Buys Electrowetting Specialist Liquavista

Samsung Buys Electrowetting Specialist Liquavista

Liquavista's electrowetting know-how could give Samsung a major boost in the tablet market.

Samsung has announced its purchase of Liquavista, a specialist in electrowetting technology, suggesting that the electronics giant is looking to create devices with sunlight-readable displays.

Liquavista formed in 2006 as a spin-off from the Philips Research Lab, and has been a driving force in the growing electrowetting industry. The display technology enables ultra-low power screens to be read in direct sunlight, while still offering full colour images and rapid response times.

While standard LCDs can offer great response times and dramatic colour, they're often almost unreadable outdoors. Meanwhile, electrophoretic displays such as eInk get easier to read as more direct sunlight falls on them, but they also have extremely slow response times and poor colour. As such, electrowetting is seen as the logical marriage that offers the best of both worlds.

The manufacturing techniques developed by Liquavista, and now in the sole ownership of Samsung, enable the creation of displays that draw a tenth of the power of a conventional screen, while offering all the performance and quality benefits of a full-power display.

Better yet, the technology's massive increase in transmittance compared to LCD technology, and the ability for Liquavista's displays to operate in transmissive, reflective, transreflective and even transparent modes, means the displays are can be read in direct sunlight.

The purchase of the company, for an undisclosed sum, gives Samsung a major boost in the mobile device market. A laptop featuring a Liquavista display would have significantly better battery life compared to a traditional LCD-based model, and a tablet based on the same technology would benefit from better readability in sunlight - one of the biggest complaints surrounding Apple's popular iPad tablet.

Samsung has yet to confirm when it plans to start production of devices using Liquavista's electrowetting display technology. However, the company states that it will start by working on a colour eReader with video capabilities, before looking into using the technology in the rest of its product lines.

Could Liquavista's technology help Samsung compete in the burgeoning tablet and eReader markets, or is there more to such devices than the display? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

9 Comments

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<A88> 20th January 2011, 14:40 Quote
If Samsung can commercialise them quickly enough then this should make for some very interesting products. From what I've read they're aiming for 8"+ products initially which might well give Samsung a boost in its tablet portfolio.

The problem it has is that it's already set the bar quite high with the Super-Duper-Extra AMOLED screens they've been using in their smartphones to the extent that people might expect to see that quality of colour levels in any new products, which I don't think Liquavista is capable of delivering yet. I'd also be interested to know if the screens have any backlighting capabilities at all? Obviously e-paper and e-ink screens owe their outdoors readability and low power consumption to not having to burden themselves with a backlight, but need an external light source to be read in the dark. If this is the same case with Liqauvista's displays then I'd imagine Samsung would decide to use them for a specific category of tablets and not by default in all their products for now.
Cupboard 20th January 2011, 14:50 Quote
Half the problem with using displays anywhere there is direct light is that they all seem to insist on glossy screens. Why?!
<A88> 20th January 2011, 14:59 Quote
Because they look nice in the promotional material? B) I agree with you though; I guess you've always got the option of a matte screen protector if you want though.
leexgx 20th January 2011, 16:39 Quote
removing the glossy screen would fix a lot of issues, i have only had an issue with LCD screens that are glossy in sunlight

only Sony viao laptops seem to be usable in sunlight due to the super bright backlight that you can turn it up to(depends on model)
Xir 20th January 2011, 17:06 Quote
Electrowetting...sounds sick, like a form of torture.
Have you ever electrowettted yourself? :D

I bet Big Mike's into Elektrowetting, he is...
Fizzban 20th January 2011, 17:10 Quote
Electrowetting...*titters*
asura 20th January 2011, 18:20 Quote
"...operate in transmissive, reflective, transreflective and even transparent modes..."

Transparent mode... can everyone spell heads up display? Good.
Tangster 20th January 2011, 23:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by asura
"...operate in transmissive, reflective, transreflective and even transparent modes..."

Transparent mode... can everyone spell heads up display? Good.

Sci-fi mod time? Yes please.
metarinka 21st January 2011, 02:09 Quote
electrowetting sounds like a sweet name for a band "electrowet" or electrosweat hmm....
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