PVI chairman Scott Liu today told the press that his company will produce some of the earliest fully touchscreen and motion-capable e-paper displays this year. Current screens often need a separate touchscreen layer and are too slow to show video or other animations, but screens with either feature should be ready by the end of 2010. PVI’s touchscreen technique would put the touch underneath the e-paper and eliminate the unintentional dimming of the display, a problem that has affected e-readers from Sony and others.
No mention is made of how video will be made feasible, although competitors like Qualcomm have turned to alternative technology like mirasol to make video an option.
PVI hasn’t named its customers for the screens, though it already makes displays for some of the most important e-book devices on the market, such as the Sony Reader Daily Edition and all versions of the Amazon Kindle. Amazon may not use PVI’s touch surfaces, however, as it recently bought Touchco in a move likely to result in advanced multi-touch input.
The news closes some of the gap between power-efficient but limited e-readers and fast, full-color LCD devices like the iPad. Color and touch have already come to e-book readers together in the form of the Fujitsu FLEPia, but its high price, low color range and lack of motion support have left it relatively marginalized.