Digital readers like the Kindle almost all use screen that lack a backlight, but are very easy to read in direct natural light. The upside to these screens is that they sip battery power, yet the downside is that they can’t show video or color. Tablets on the other hand, like the iPad, have LCDs that have backlights and can show moving video and full color, but the screens slurp down power shortening the usable life of the gadget.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have announced a new screen breakthrough that is dubbed “zero power e-design”. The screen has no backlight like an eReader display, but is capable of showing full color and video content on the screen. The tech uses a dispersion fluid like an ink jet fluid along with an oil to produce a color image using ambient light outdoors or inside. The screens would need a small electrical charge to move the fluid, but the image would be held without power being required. This is basically how eReaders today function with little power needed once a page is displayed.
One of the most important aspects of the new screen tech is that it can be built using existing production methods and in existing LCD plants. The tech is expected to hit the market in about three years and will first surface as shelf tags in a grocery store according to the researchers.
Side note: I wrote the story at the source, but the lead for Slash was assigned to me rather than this being shameless self-promotion. :)