updated 08:05 pm EST, Wed January 19, 2011
Samsung acquires Liquavista
Samsung on Wednesday night confirmed that it had bought out Liquavista in what's likely a play for smartphones and tablets. The buyout gives it access to electrowetting, a technique that can give e-paper performance closer to that of an LCD. It can refresh 70 times faster than traditional e-paper and play color video but still has twice the light transmittance of an LCD and uses just a tenth of the power.
The Korean electronics giant plans to directly roll Liquavista's technology into e-paper but also its transparent displays. It won't be limited to e-readers and should cover "mobile phones, media players and other mobile devices," Samsung said. In the past, the newly acquired company has also shown flexible screens.
Liquavista was technically acquired in December and may already be at work, although Samsung hasn't said when it anticipated the first commercial products to ship.
The takeover could represent a significant attempt to one-up Apple in the tablet arena by giving future variants on the Galaxy Tab the strengths of an e-paper device with few if any of the weaknesses. iPads are now more frequently used for reading, but e-reader designers like Amazon have had regular opportunities to jab the iPad's poor outdoor readability inherent to its backlit, glossy LCD. Samsung may not use electrowetting exclusively, however, and could license it out to other companies.