PVI supplies Kindle, iPad screen technology

If you thought it was impressive that PVI/eInk supply screens for the Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook, and pretty much every dedicated eReader device, wait till you hear this (via Electronista and Wall Street Journal) –

Hydis Technology Co., Prime View’s South Korean subsidiary, … provides a key display technology used in Apple Inc.’s iPad …

… the technology, known as advanced fringe field switching, that widens the screen’s viewing angles and improves visibility

Apple refers to the technology as IPS – in-place switching.

PVI’s IPS technology and LG Display ties

Here’s a little more on PVI’s in-plane switching technology from DigiTimes

The Hydis-developed FFS technology has been further developed into AFFS (advanced fringe field switching) and AFFS+. The benefits of AFFS technologies include readability under sunlight, low power consumption, wide viewing angle, fast response time and high brightness, PVI said.

Note that the iPad does not have the readability under sunlight promised in AFFS (perhaps it has FFS, AFFS’ predecessor) – However, it does indicate that a future version may well be readable in sunlight.

WSJ fills in some details on how PVI technology got into the iPad –

Prime View in December signed a cross-licensing pact with LG Display Co., which analysts have said is likely one of the iPad’s flat-panel suppliers.

LG Display said that it would invest $30.5 million in Hydis through a bond purchase, following a $10 million investment in Prime View

Electronista point out that there is a $500 million Apple-LG Display deal –

Apple hasn’t confirmed the deals and doesn’t normally divulge which companies supply its individual components. It did recently strike a $500 million deal with LG Display to produce screens across its lineup.

It’s interesting to see PVI gradually grow and expand. The deal with LG Display in December 2009 was their second major deal of the year. PVI had bought eInk Corporation of Cambridge Massachusetts in June 2009 for $215 million.

PVI shows off new eReader Screen technology

T3 has two videos of new eInk screens from PVI that are promised to reach eReader makers by end 2010 and customers by end 2010 or early 2011. Great to know that technology that should have arrived a year ago is still a year away.

Here’s what’s promised –

improvement from the standard 7:1 contrast ratio screens – to the much easier on the eye 12:1 ratio – and a faster refresh rate. E Ink claims this refresh rate is fast enough to support simple animations.

Another prototype shown boasts a larger flexible display with claims from E Ink that it’s tough enough to take a fair size impact without it blinking a single pixel.

On the plus side the eInk display in the first video has excellent contrast.

Companies that profit from both Kindle and iPad

There are lots of companies that are profiting from both Kindle and iPad –

  1. PVI is perhaps one of the most critical since they supply the key screen technology for both Kindle and iPad.  
  2. FoxConn – It manufactures the Kindle and Apple devices like iPhone – making it likely it’s also manufacturing the iPad. 
  3. Amazon – Yes, that’s right. Kindle for iPad’s 480,000 books and worldwide availability is much more impressive than the iBooks’ 60,000 books and US only availability.
  4. Newspaper and magazine publishers.
  5. Book Publishers.

It’s an interesting thought – while the Press keep playing up the Kindle vs iPad angle, multiple companies, including Amazon, just see them as two separate channels/devices that can both be a source of profit.

Could Flexible Displays be part of a Next Generation Kindle?

The Kindle, in future, might very well use a color flexible display – Its interesting to see the competing technologies and speculate on which could be used in a ‘Next Generation’ Kindle. It’ll probably be Kindle 4 or later since most of these displays only have prototypes available and it won’t be 2-3 years until they’re released. It’ll probably take another year after that for the price of these displays to become reasonable.

Edit: eInk already has flexible non-color display screens – for example in the Readius cellphone.

Here are some of the Flexible Displays currently being developed –

  1. Fledge Interactive’s FlexDisplay. This is my favorite as the images look really good. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYOAbixyoug]
  2. Tsutae Shinoda is the inventor of the plasma display, and his company, Shinoda Plasma Corp., have developed a 1 mm thick, and 125 inches wide display that will be available in mid of 2009. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKr6hTUnmsw]
  3. Sony’s Flexible OLED display. The organic Light Emitting Diodes emit their own light. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcAm3KihFho&feature=related]
  4. Samsung’s Flexible OLED display. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2SCZvU8sGU]
  5. The HP-ASU Display. U.S. Army-backed research is going on at Arizona State University’s Flexible Display Center. The displays might be trialled by soldiers in 2010 or 2011. The project has been going on since 2004, and the U.S. Army has invested nearly $44 million toward the research. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yrNhRnp0Dk&eurl=http://www.oled-display.net/hp-and-arizona-state-university-demo-flexible-displays]
  6. Rolled Displays from VTT Technical Research Centre in Finland. They’re 2 years away from market trials so products based on their technology are still very far away.

There are a lot of very interesting developments going on in display technology. This bodes well for cellphones, the kindle and other portable technology. The large number of small and large companies developing next generation display technology (and the huge amount of funding startups in this area are getting) is a reflection of the huge opportunities. I was looking at a jacket last week and marvelling at  the fact that you could plug in your ipod and there were buttons on the jacket’s sleeve itself that linked to your ipod. To think that in 3-5 years we might have wearable displays – Wow!