Rumour: Amazon buys Touchco

February 4, 2010 // 10:15 a.m.

Tags: #amazon #interpolating-force-sensitive-resistive-touch-screen #kindle #lab123 #multitouch #multi-touch #touchco

Amazon may be looking to beef up future versions of its Kindle e-book readers following rumours of the acquisition of a flexible touch-screen specialist.

As reported over on The New York Times, Amazon is said to have bought New York-based start-up Touchco outright and plans to integrate the company's staff and technology into its Kindle division in order to bring touch sensing to future models of its e-book readers.

Touchco - which started life at the Media Research Lab of New York University - is a small, six-person start-up with a single product: the interpolating force-sensitive resistance touch screen. Unlike traditional resistive displays, Touchco's innovative design allows for multi-touch - sensing an allegedly unlimited number of contact points. The company's technology also has the edge over existing capacitive touch-screen technology by costing just $10 (£6.30) per square foot to manufacture.

The design of the screen also allows for some neat tricks which are just plain impossible with traditional resistive or capacitive touch displays - including the option to create an entirely transparent screen, and the ability to print the display onto a flexible plastic layer in order to create curved screens or increase shock resistance in the finished product. As if that wasn't enough, Touchco's technology allows for pressure sensitivity - much like a traditional graphics tablet, except with no stylus required.

While Touchco's touch-screen technology certainly sounds like the way forward, it's worth mentioning that although the company has several prototype products it has yet to commercialise any. Whilst Amazon is currently refusing to confirm or deny the rumoured purchase, a message on Touchco's website reads "as of January 2010, the company is no longer doing business." With such a vague statement, it remains to be seen if the Kindle 3 could be the interpolating first force-sensitive resistive touch device on the market.

Are you impressed by the possibilities offered by Touchco's technology, or are you just hoping it makes it to other products rather than Amazon's somewhat niche Kindle range? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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