updated 03:30 pm EDT, Fri April 6, 2012
Amazon snaps up Oy Modilis to get night Kindle use
The combination of a leak and discoveries has revealed that Amazon is likely developing a unique illuminated E Ink screen. A source showing a disguised prototype in person to TechCrunch had an adjustable screen that evenly lit up with a cool light. The effect was like that of a white LED, but softer and easier to read, according to the anecdote.
The technology would stem from Oy Modilis, a Finnish company that Amazon quietly bought near the end of 2010. As shown in patents, it would reflect light across the screen instead of creating only a spot for each light.
Although most details were unavailable for the hardware itself apart from the sensitivity slider. Having undergone a major redesign last year, however, Amazon may be more likely to use it in an evolution of existing designs than rethink its concepts. By its nature, the illumination would scrap the need for lighting accessories at the likely expense of some battery life.
A launch is believed to be coming later this year and might fit in with the late summer or early fall schedule that Amazon kept in 2011.
The use of illumination would help Amazon both reduce the amount to which the Kindle Fire cannibalizes lower-end Kindles as well as stave off competition from full-fledged tablets like the iPad. Although price differences usually keep E Ink readers and full tablets from directly competing with each other, it reduces the incentive to opt a competitor's tablet and get better reading in low light without needing a clip-on accessory.