Samsung Buys Electrowetting Specialist Liquavista

January 20, 2011 // 12:55 p.m.

Tags: #electrophoretic #electrowetting #ereader #lcd #liquavista #samsung #tablet

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.

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