New Watch Display: Philip’s Liquavista

Liquavista, a spin-off of Philips Research Labs, has launched a new type of display for information devices like wristwatches and cellphones called the ColorBright.

Color Bright uses a patented electrowetting technology where a voltage is used to control a layer of colored oil.

The colored oil covers the background and acts a layer that can be switched on and off to reveal numbers, text or even graphics. You also have the freedom to define what part of the display you want to cover with the oil so its flexible and the display can be made invisible by matching the background (reflector) color of the display with that of the device so it disappears when its switched off.

The device is between two and six times brighter than the LCD and works well in ambient light. There are currently seven set of colors – black, blue, purple, green, cyan, a cross between pink and red, and yellow

Electronic paper as we currently know or see uses the electrophoretic process which is where pigment particles in a hydrocarbon oil are rearranged by electric charge. Electrowetting is also considered as electronic paper except its faster and if you ever envision a future where we would have video content on a paper like surface, it would be via the electrowetting process. A disadvantage though is that electrowetted displays still need power even when the display image is not changing, whereas electrophoretic displays do not. But some say that that this is only a disadvantage when images are frozen for long periods of time i.e. with posters or billboards. I’m not sure if this applies to watches or Liquavista’s version of it.

This launch is currently considered as Generation 1 so expect more.

related links

IDTechex: Electrowetting could be a disruptive technology
Nature: Video-speed electronic paper based on electrowetting
Electronic Paper [Wiki]

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