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World's first touch-sensitive e-reader touted

Force sensing technology

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Taiwanese manufacturer Prime View International (PVI) claims to have developed the world’s first e-reader that integrates touch-sensitivity into an e-paper screen.

PVI claims that none of the currently available e-book reader products, such as Sony’s PRS505, have combined touch technology with e-paper. But by doing so, PVI believes it can “spur demands for e-books” because allowing users to use their fingers to flick their way through a book could make e-readers much simpler to use.

Dubbed the Touch EPD, the PVI product relies on “force-sensing” touch technology, or pressure sensors placed underneath the e-paper screen. When a sensor is touched by either a stylus or finger, software calculates both the location and force of the pressure.

PVI opted for the cheaper pressure sensors over capacitive touch panels, which are coated in a material that stores electrical charges. When a capacitive panel is touched, a small amount of charge is drawn to the point of contact, allowing the location of the contact to be worked out. But it only works with conductive materials, like a human finger.

The company hasn’t confirmed any other technical details about the Touch EPD yet, or when it will be available.

E-paper pioneer E Ink has also begun partnering Wacom’s Penabled brand digital pens with its own Vizplex displays. Although still only at the prototype stage, e-readers will eventually enable users to jot all sorts of information down on the gadget’s screen, such as ideas and sketches, the two companies said.

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