On Monday Amazon confirmed that it has acquired former Samsung screen tech company Liquavista for an unknown amount. The confirmation arrived after new filings from the Netherland's Chamber of Commerce revealed that Samsung no longer owned the company, and that as of April 29 is was owned by a "faceless" Haverl LLC registered out of Delaware.
"That company, Haverl LLC, has no presence online or products on the market. In fact, the only noteworthy detail that I have found is that Haverl LLC leads to a holding company called CSC," reports The Digital Reader. "This pattern of a faceless LLC leading to a holding company should be familiar; it’s the same trick that Amazon used to hide their FCC filings last year."
Samsung purchased Liquavista in December 2010 for its electrowetting screen tech, but this tech reportedly won't be able to achieve the same cutting edge high quality and high resolution screens Samsung is using in its smartphones and tablets. Thus for a while there have been rumors that Samsung is looking to sell the company for under $100 million and take a loss.
Dutch-based Liquavista was founded in 2006 as a spin-off from Philips. It has developed a color e-paper video screen that can work with or without a backlight using electrowetting technology. The first products based on this tech were expected to arrive sometime this year.
"The performance of Liquavista technology makes it well suited for use in mobile applications such as e-readers, mobile phones, GPS devices, portable media players and cameras because of the ability to see displays in all lighting conditions combined with the ability to show video content at very low power," the company explains.
Amazon said in its confirmation that it's always looking for new technologies it may be able to incorporate into its products over the long term. "The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays," Amazon stated.
Liquavista defines electrowetting as "a microfluidic phenomenon" that involves modifying the surface tension of liquids on a solid surface using a voltage. By applying a voltage, the wetting properties of a hydrophobic surface can be modified and the surface becomes increasingly hydrophilic (wettable). With Electrowetting displays, the modification of the surface tension is used to obtain a simple optical switch by contracting a colored oil film electrically.
"Without a voltage, the colored oil forms a continuous film and the color is visible to the consumer," the company states. "When a voltage is applied to the display pixel the oil is displaced and the pixel becomes transparent. When different pixels are independently activated, the display can show content like a photograph or a video. We can also use this transmissive pixel as the basis for reflective of transflective displays."
Although Amazon didn't say what it plans to do with this new technology, it's assumed to be headed to the company's line of Kindle e-readers. This tech would add color to Amazon's e-ink readers without depleting battery life.