Dutch electronics company Liquavista has announced that it will be working with Texas Instruments to integrate its unique electrowetting display into TI’s new eBook platform. It’s part of a bigger plan to incorporate the technology into a variety of products. “Liquavista’s aim is to make its electrowetting display technology available as broadly as possible to end-consumers via a wide range of products” says Liquavista CEO Guy Demuynck. So, just what is electrowetting? If Liquavista is to be believed, it’s a technology with all the benefits of LCD, but with up to four times the optical performance.

The basic principle behind electrowetting involves modifying the surface tension of liquids on a solid surface using electricity. As the Liquavista website goes on to explain, “the modification of the surface tension is used to obtain a simple optical switch by contracting a colored oil film electrically. Without a voltage, the colored oil forms a continuous film and the color is visible to the consumer. When a voltage is applied to the display pixel the oil is displaced and the pixel becomes transparent. When different pixels are independently activated, the display can show content like a photograph or a video.”

Now do you get it?

As compared to LCD, the electrowetting display is reportedly brighter, more colorful, better-suited to video, and less power-consumptive. The technology is close enough to LCD, however, that it could exploit the existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure. In fact, it uses over 90 percent of the same manufacturing equipment and processes.

There will be three types of Liquavista displays available, depending on the product. Already out of the gate is LiquavistaBright, a video-capable monochrome reflective display aimed at eReaders. LiquavistaColor is, simply put, a color version of LiquavistaBright. LiquavistaVivid has a transflective display, meaning that it combines a monochrome reflective mode with a color transmissive (backlit) mode.

“Liquavista’s promising solutions will introduce many benefits to the mobile consumer market” says Elie Belmand of Texas Instruments. “We look forward to working with Liquavista as they bring the next generation of color eReaders to consumers across the globe.”