The Future of E Ink

The introduction of full-color versions of electronic ink displays, the technology used by Amazon’s Kindle, Sony’s Reader and many other electronic book-reading devices, came closer to reality today with the acquisition of E Ink by Taiwan-based Prime View International.
Prime View said it signed a definitive agreement to acquire E Ink for approximately $215 million. E Ink’s technology is used to display text in ebook readers from more than 20 companies, including a Plastic Logic publicly demonstrated last week.

“The Number 1 need in the market is to get color, but we did not have sufficient resources to develop it,” Sriram Peruvemba, E Ink vice president of marketing, said in an interview. “This acquisition gives us the manpower and cash we need.”

E Ink’s headquarters will remain in Cambridge, Mass. The company, which currently employs 130 people, is planning to add about 18 more staffers, including chemical engineers.

Prime View, based in Taipei, makes the electronics that drive the individual pixels in E Ink’s displays. The two companies have been working together since 2005, when Prime View acquired the ePaper assets of Philips Electronics. Prime View also makes LCD displays.

Mr. Peruvemba expects the company to introduce a production color display some time next year and video in 2011. While E Ink displays can show animation today, the current 250 millisecond response time needs to be reduced to 50 milliseconds to display full motion video.

While E Ink is demonstrating a prototype of its color display at the Computex trade show in Taipei this week, the current quality is not good enough to attract consumers or content providers.

“The color is fine for ads, but it’s not there for applications,” Mr. Peruvemba said. “It needs to be much more dense, like that found in OLED displays.”

Mr. Peruvemba added that part of the challenge in creating a color display is doing so without increasing the power consumption or reducing readability.

BY Eric A. Taub
Source:The New York Times

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company.



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