Samsung acquires sunlight readable display company Liquavista

There hasn’t been any official announcement yet, but it appears that Samsung has acquired Liquavista, a company developing displays that use electrowetting to allow for full color visibility both indoors and out. The Digital Reader received a tip about the acquisition and dug up a job listing which suggests Liquavista is a new division at Samsung. eReaders.nl, meanwhile, found a document suggesting that Samsung is now the parent company of Liquavista.

What dos this mean? It’s a bit early to say, but it’s likely that we could eventually see Samsung eBook readers and other devices such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks with sunlight readable displays.

Liquavista also has transflective displays which can work as monochrome screens with the backlight turned off or full color displays with the backlight on — much like Pixel Qi‘s displays.

Update: It’s official. Samsung says the acquisition will allow the company to “expand its leadership in next generation display technologies” with ePaper screens that offer refresh rates 70 times faster than E Ink, allowing for color videos playback. Samsung expects to expand the technology to transparent, transflective, and transmissive displays in the future. You can check out the full press release below.

SEOUL, Korea – January 20, 2011 – Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, a global technology innovation
and digital convergence leader, today announced it has acquired display technology firm
Liquavista BV. Samsung completed the acquisition of Liquavista, based in Eindhoven, the
Netherlands, in December 2010.

Liquavista, founded in 2006 as a spin-out from the Philips Research Labs, offers a new type of electronic
display technology known as electrowetting for applications in e-readers, mobile phones, media players
and other mobile devices.

The electrowetting technology, which operates in transmissive, reflective, transparent and transflective
modes, enables the creation of displays with bright, colorful images with dramatically reduced power
consumption. Offering more than twice the transmittance of LCD technology and able to operate at low
frequencies, displays utilizing electrowetting consume just 10 percent of the battery power of existing
display technologies.

With the acquisition of Liquavista, Samsung aims to expand its leadership in next generation display
technologies by pioneering the application of electrowetting in e-Paper and transparent displays. As
electrowetting can be manufactured by modifying existing LCD production lines, Samsung will be able to
realize significant synergies through the utilization of existing manufacturing equipment and capabilities.

In e-paper applications, the response time of the electrowetting displays will be more than 70 times
faster than that of existing reflective displays, allowing for color videos, which was previously thought
impossible. In future, the application of the technology is expected to expand to transparent, transmissive
and transflective displays.

About Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, digital media
and digital convergence technologies with 2009 consolidated sales of US$116.8 billion. Employing
approximately 174,000 people in 193 offices across 66 countries, the company consists of eight
independently operated business units: Visual Display, Mobile Communications, Telecommunication
Systems, Digital Appliances, IT Solutions, Digital Imaging, Semiconductor and LCD. Recognized as one
of the fastest growing global brands, Samsung Electronics is a leading producer of digital TVs, memory
chips, mobile phones and TFT-LCDs. For more information, please visit www.samsung.com.

  • Monkeyking

    I remember commenting here last spring about how many people had their iPads outside on a park bench trying to show off their ‘prestige’ device to friends and being totally frustrated that the damn thing didn’t work outdoors at all. Transreflective will be a BIG term for 2011 in the tech arena. Those that buy the tiny companies who were hammering away at the problems for years will be sitting pretty…those that are left holding nothing will be very sad.

    Apple does have a transreflective display in the works for MacBook Air, but they really need to fast track that for iPad 2.0. My guess is when Steve (if he’s not in the hospital) talks about iPad 2, the “Oh one more thing” will be a display that can be used in direct sunlight.

    But back to the news at hand — it is good to see Samsung has a solution in their pocket. Let’s just hope they can get in devices before they get too far behind.

  • Anonymous

    I am hoping either Liquivista and Samsung or Pixel Qi and CPT bring out a 12′ screen that doesn’t cost about as much as the device you want to run it on like Pixel Qi’s offering..

  • Anonymous

    Hopefully this should speed up adoption of these more efficient screen technologies. Not only benefiting sunlight readability but also helping to reduce power usage from the screen and consequently increasing total system run times.

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