On the first day of FPD International at Yokohama, Japan, the floor was very crowded with attendees, but the word is that there are about half the number of exhibitors as last year.
As we have discussed previously, the e-book reader market is heating up, but most of the devices are using E Ink electrophoretic technology, including the recently announced Nook from Barnes & Noble. Other candidate technologies are being shown at FPD International; one is a technology called electrowetting. DisplaySearch has published a detailed analysis of this and other e-paper technologies in our E-Paper Displays Report.
Liquavista, the innovator of this technology, demonstrated 6″ and 6.2″ with a resolution of 600 × 800 pixels, and 3.5″ electrowetting displays. The TFT backplanes are made by undisclosed partner companies. The displays have Wacom touch screens. Liquavista claims the displays have contrast ratios of 14:1 and fast enough response time for video. (Liquavista has some sample video here.)
Figure 1: Liquavista electrowetting display (top left); E Ink in an e-book reader (top right); TFT LCD in an iPhone (lower left); paper (lower right)
On this first day of FPD International, only the monochrome version was on display; Liquavista stated that a color model will be shipped in later. (A color demo is included at the end of the video clip linked above).The method is color filter on monochrome. The displays use a specular reflector beneath the electrowetting cell, so Liquavista claims that its color version will be brighter than E Ink’s, which is a Lambertian type. Liquavista is also considering stacking two layers of color displays to form a full-color display. The electrowetting display technology can be transflective, so RGB LEDs in a side-lit configuration is possible.
Liquavista used to partner with a Chinese company to make segmented type electrowetting displays for watch applications, but that has stopped. Liquavista is now building an active matrix electrowetting display fab in Eindhoven, targeting e-book applications. The first product is expected to reach the market in early 2011. In 2011, Liquavista plans to have both monochrome and color e-book displays commercialized. It is currently in discussions with OEMs.