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Amazon buys Samsung’s Liquavista display subsidiary, hints of possible new Kindle tech

Samsung Flexible Screen

After Samsung acquired Liquavista in 2011, there were talks that the electronics giant would unveil new smartphones with flexible screens in 2012. Well, 2012 came and went, and we have yet to see Galaxy devices with displays that bend. In fact, a report suggests that rival LG would beat Samsung to the punch in unveiling a flexible display by end of the year. The latest news (via PCMag) from Samsung may point to why there has been no movement: Sammy has struck a deal to sell Liquavista to Amazon. Amazon confirmed what had been rumors that such a deal was in the works.

The acquisition could foreshadow what’s to come in future Kindle devices. Liquavista, a Dutch firm that spun off from Philips in 2006, specializes in a display technology called “electrowetting.” The benefits of an electrowetting display could be big for Amazon Kindle e-readers and tablets: they can be viewed in various lighting scenarios yet offer low-power video playback, far more efficient than traditional LCD. (Before Samsung took over Liquavista, the company had planned to release e-readers with electrowetting displays, but pulled out when they found they could not sell premium display products at below cost.) There are other plusses, as well, including the aforementioned flexible display concept, however it’s uncertain at the moment if Amazon will incorporate bendable screens in a Kindle.

“We are always looking for new technologies we may be able to incorporate into our products over the long term. The Liquavista team shares our passion for invention and is creating exciting new technologies with a lot of potential. It’s still early days, but we’re excited about the possibilities and we look forward to working with Liquavista to develop these displays,” Amazon told PCMag.

Samsung hasn’t yet announced what its plans would be for flexible displays in relation to this deal, but judging from history we can bet the company will not stand by while its rival rolls out bendy smartphones, something Samsung has been working for the past couple years.