E-book readers have one thing in common — at least the ones not using LCD screens — they all display in black and white. The E-ink technology that’s widely used in e-readers doesn’t do video, either, something considered a drawback by many who watch the space. What E-ink screens do bring to the table are long battery life, and that is considered an acceptable compromise. And we may not need to give up battery life for good color displays that can handle video — that is, if LiquaVista brings its color display technology to market as it expects to do.
The LiquaVista technology uses electrowetting, a technique that uses electrical charges to move colored oil around in each pixel on the display and is capable of frame rates up to 60 per second — per the company’s claims anyway. The BBC has produced a video of the technology in action, and it does look very promising. Video playback is smooth and fast, although the BBC found it to leave artifacts on the screen. It’s a very early version of the technology, however, and since it can handle video well without backlighting, is likely very power-stingy. This is definitely a technology worth watching.
A natural property of electrowetting is that the screen image gets more vivid in bright sunlight. This eliminates the need for any backlighting, and gives the technology a distinct advantage over those of current display methods. LiquaVista is in discussions with partners, and hopes to bring the technology to market in the next year or two. I wonder if the iPad — LCD screen and all — already hampers the need for this new technology?