My guess is maybe they plan to combine Sharp's Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) with Hydis's Advanced Fringe Field Switching (AFFS) for LCD screen manufacturing. The cross-licensing agreement lasts 10 years from now.
Here's the press release:
July 12, 2012, Hsinchu, Taiwan – E Ink® Holdings (8069.TW), the leading developer
and marketer of electronic paper display technologies and FFS LCD technologies,
today announced that the company and its South Korean subsidiary Hydis
Technologies, have each signed a patent cross‐licensing agreement for TFT LCD
products with Sharp Corporation of Japan.
Under the terms of each Agreement, which will be in effect for ten (10) years, the
two parties will be able to use certain proprietary technologies of the other in the
manufacturing of LCDs. The agreements make provision for the payment of patent
licensing royalty. In addition, during the effective period of the Agreements, the two
sides will maintain patent peace to exempt each Company and their customers'
operations from patent interference and allow each of the parties to focus on
Hydis’ Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology is currently used in LCD‐based tablet
PCs, smart phones, and other high‐end handheld devices. LCDs using FFS
technology provide users with a wide viewing angle, high contrast, high‐resolution
display with the benefit of lower power consumption and is superior to other
similar wide viewing angle technologies in the market. Hydis FFS technology has
been licensed to other prominent LCD manufacturers in the past, and these new
agreements will continue to broaden the use of the technology. Future applications
of the FFS technology include notebook computers and television, markets in which
the potential growth for utilizing Hydis’ FFS technology remain huge.
“We are very excited about these agreements with Sharp,” stated Scott Liu,
Chairman of E Ink Holdings. “FFS technology can greatly enhance a user’s LCD
experience, and licensing to other leading LCD makers will allow us to reach new
markets and customers.”
- E Ink, Sharp sign patent cross-licensing deal (zdnet.com)
E Ink CMO Sri Peruvemba shows new products and concepts from E Ink and their partners, including traffic lights, crosswalks, kayak and bike computers, and various signage.
Source: E Ink's YouTube Channel
Here is the press release:
-South Korea-based TFT-LCD panel maker Hydis Technologies, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based E Ink Holdings Inc., today announced that they will add on-cell touch screen panel (TSP) technology to their LCD portfolio of offerings.
“With on-cell touch, we are able to combine the best LCD in the world with a touch technology that offers better performance at lower cost.”
Hydis is able to offer the TSP technology with on-cell touch, which provides the customer a slim and lightweight form factor, with the added benefit of lower cost versus traditional touch technologies. The touch functionality is embedded within the display itself rather than as a separate component atop the display. This results in more precise touch with better optics due to reduction in parallax errors. In addition, LCDs with this touch technology consumes less power and can take advantage of cost reductions in manufacturing due to the reduction of a glass layer and the alleviation of the need for a separate touch panel supplier.
Hydis will begin offering the on-cell technology to the smartphone and tablet markets beginning this month. Hydis is perhaps best known as the inventors and providers of Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology, which is featured in many smartphones and most tablets currently in the market. FFS LCD provides a wider viewing angle and color gamut, consumes less power and offers better high ambient readability than traditional LCDs. Hydis’ publicly announced customers include Dell, HP, Lenovo, Kobo & Siemens, among others.
“Hydis’ FFS technology is preferred by Tablet and Smart phone makers worldwide,” said Johnson Lee, Chairman of Hydis Technologies. “With on-cell touch, we are able to combine the best LCD in the world with a touch technology that offers better performance at lower cost.”
Is this new touch screen technology really better and cheaper than capacitive? Hydis's Fringe Field Switching (FFS) technology is already in use by for example the iPad and other popular LCD tablets. Does it support multi-touch? Does it support pen input? Is it really more precise than capacitive? I look forward to try it out. Perhaps Hydis will show it off at Computex next week? I'll be video-blogging 50 or more videos from Computex next week so check back for those.
Check out this interview on Forbes.com with Sriram Peruvemba CMO at E Ink Holdings. Here are some quotes from the interview:
The big five in the LCD industry based on 2011 revenues are Samsung, LG, CMI, AUO and Sharp. It costs upwards of $1B to build a TV-class LCD factory in Asia. A state of the art Gen 10 LCD factory might cost upwards of $3B if built today. In the past few years, the industry has been more in the red than in the black. Margins in the display business tend to be razor thin, particularly in consumer applications.
So what makes LCDs rule? There is one spec that LCD has that beats every other technology, and when I mention this to a room full of engineers, they think I have crossed over to the dark side. This spec is called “price,” which is the most important spec for displays.
Take your favorite TV or mobile phone, the display is what catches your attention. A significant portion of the purchase decision for a TV, Monitor or GPS unit is based on the impression created by the display, yet the average consumer has no idea who made the display. Being an ingredient display brand in the consumer electronics industry is very tough, I can tell you this from personal experience.
Exclusive 17-minute interview with E Ink's CMO at CES, where they showed me a Triton color display for signage with color so saturated that it looked like an LCD except that it was thinner than OLED, sunlight readable, uses no backlights and uses very little power. I also saw the SURF display used in a hand drill which has not been filmed before. The 11.5" 300DPI eDocument reader made in collaboration with Epson. The Triton color display based Ectaco eReader that had just won the CES innovation award, it is being deployed in Russian schools. New E Ink watches from Phosphor and Seiko. Finally, the Eton Ruckus music player with E Ink display that was launched this week was demonstrated, it is considered to be indestructible.
E Ink has shipped over 25 million E Ink screens for e-readers alone in 2011, that’s up from 10 million screens in 2010 and 4 million screens in 2009. Now E Ink is also working to expand into new markets, signage, appliances, everywhere. The idea is that more and more devices and surfaces may get an E Ink screen on them that thus by being bi-stable can show the informations for a long time without using any battery. While many electronic paper technology companies show samples, E Ink is actually in mass production with monochrome, color and segmented displays and they claim that no technology in the world comes close to the reading experience on E Ink's displays and these displays are easy on the eyes since they don’t have a shiny background or light emitting backlight.
E Ink also provided me with following amazing video featuring the actual E Ink Pearl roll display material used in Nook, Sony, Kindle etc. The video was shot alongside the Charles river in Cambridge/Boston and you can see MIT (E Ink is MIT spin off) and Boston skyline in the background. The display is a few feet wide and can go one kilometer (it was 500 meters in this video):
- Etón Corporation launches Rukus, the solar-powered Sound system (armdevices.net)
- Ectacto Jetbook Color eReader already available in Russia (liliputing.com)
- E Ink thinks its displays belong on pretty much everything (dvice.com)
- CES 2012: Color e-Ink readers are finally a reality, though not in the U.S. (news.consumerreports.org)
Sriram Peruvemba, Vice President of marketing at E Ink, gives us the latest news from E Ink, they announced that they will ship between 25 million and 30 million E Ink screens this year, just for the E Ink e-readers like the Kindle 4 and Nook Touch. Yup you read right, 30 million of those devices to be sold this year.
You push a button behind the credit card, it displays a unique security code which can be used as pin code for payment security. The battery in that credit card lasts for up to 2 years, it's the same size and weight as a normal credit card and it is unbreakable.
Both of the new amazingly priced Nook Touch ($139) and Kobo Touch ($129) seem to use the new Freescale i.MX508 (I first filmed i.MX508 a year ago) to facilitate smooth touch interfaces using Infrared Touch technology (first used in the Sony PRS-650) but also to easily enable those to be the first Android powered e-ink e-readers! Basically i.MX508 and Android makes first real useful use of WiFi and Touch on e-ink e-readers! Using Android on e-ink is awesome to provide for great files support, web browser, easily add apps like news readers, rss readers, Chrome-To-Phone functionality (just beam any article or any text from your Chrome browser on your laptop to your e-ink e-reader in one click!), synchronizing of bookmarks, wireless beaming of web based ebooks, all in one click. Android on e-ink just increases the e-readers potential greatly. Using infrared touchscreen technology is a great way to provide the best possible readability, not adding any layers on top of the screen.
Look forward to much more fascinating devices to come with:
i.MX508 + Android + infrared touch + WiFi/3G + e-ink = Low-cost e-ink e-readers!
Also see my video of the alternative Acoustic Pulse Recognition (APR) touch technology.
An interesting thing to follow though will be to see how open Android i.MX508 e-ink e-reader makers will be towards allowing for alternative e-book stores, and allowing for full open Android apps installation and full unrestricted access to the web browser. As it may be that part of the profit margins on these new low-cost e-ink e-readers may be subsidized by the hardware makers expecting to make later huge profits on selling e-books, like Amazon does with their Kindle e-book store, it will be fun to see if all the e-ink e-reader makers will seize the opportunity to be open with Android on e-ink and at the same time find new interesting ways to monetize those. I for example would prefer paying less than $10 per month for unlimited legal access to all e-books, all newspapers, all blogs, all websites, everything, perhaps even certain 3G bandwidth included, but will content owners and hardware makers be open minded enough to let that happen quickly?
When will Google officially announce open source Android optimizations for e-ink devices and with deep integration of Google Books, Google Reader, Google Fast Flip and more?
Here's how I think those e-ink e-readers could be sold in the best way: $99, $10/month optional pre-paid plan gives 100mb 3G data (upgradable bandwidth for $1/100mb or less) and full unlimited access to all e-books, all e-newspapers, e-magazines, blogs through RSS/search and more. Full unrestricted web browsing on e-ink. And nice complete cloud syncing with your Smartphone, Tablet and Laptop. While e-ink e-reader market is doing great perhaps reaching 20 million units to be sold this year, if they price them right and open them fully, I think they'll do even better.
- Kobo Bets on a Smaller, Touch Sensitive E-Reader (gigaom.com)
- Tipster: New Nook is 'The Simple Touch Reader' (news.cnet.com)
- $129 Kobo eReader Touch Edition unveiled, original slashed to $99 (geek.com)
Sriram Peruvemba, Vice president of marketing at E-ink, presents the new flexible plastic based E-ink display. That new plastic e-ink screen technology will make it more usable for school children to use E-ink based devices to read all their textbooks and for all to access all books and texts ever written in the whole world.
E-ink is for full readability, outdoors, with reading lights indoors, it basically provides near paper quality, perfect for reading hundreds of pages. Something that is not possible on the current LCD based iPad.