Amazon Looking to Add Touchscreen to Kindle?

Feb 4 10

Amazon Looking to Add Touchscreen to Kindle?

Paul Weinstein

First published: 3rd of February 2010 for Technorati

The New York Times is reporting that Amazon has acquired Touchco, a small New York-based start-up specializing in touchscreen technology and is planning to incorporate the company’s six employees and technology into its Kindle hardware division, named Lab126, which is located in California.

Unlike Apple’s touchscreen technology which has a limited number of touch points, Touchco’s solution is reported to detect an unlimited amount of simultaneous touch points – which provides greater accuracy – as well as distinguish between different levels of pressure, at a cheaper cost.

Of course last week Apple announced their latest creation: the iPad, a 10-inch tablet-style multi-touch device which will also include an new app called iBooks, a virtual bookshelf containing the user’s personal collection of electronic books that can be purchased and read in a manner similar to music on an iPod. “If you’ve used iTunes or the App Store, you’re already familiar with this,” Jobs said.

Currently, Amazon’s Kindle, unlike Apple’s iPad – which uses a more traditional technology to display colorful, interactive content – uses a different display technology known as E Ink.

E Ink is a specific proprietary type of electronic paper manufactured by the company of the same name. While the principle advantage of E Ink is in its ultra-low power consumption and flexibility, it is only commercially available with a small color range (grayscale) and responsiveness, limiting the Kindle’s content to mostly static content, such as novels.

However, Fast Company, in reporting E Ink’s merger with a much larger business partner last year, noted that the acquisition was designed “at speeding the development of color e-paper.” At the time Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was quoted as saying that a color Kindle was “multiple years” away, but Fast Company went on note that E Ink’s Vice President Sriram Peruvemba suggested that color displays would begin being available at the end of 2010.

Of course Amazon has already moved to expand the appeal of its eReader, as last month it announced plans for an application store in hopes of getting outside developers to create the same array of programs that are now available for the iPhone and iPad.

Given the Apple and Google’s “pole positions” in the hardware and software development of mobile technologies, could Amazon’s Kindle be a dark-horse contender for our lazy Sunday afternoons?