It looks like Amazon won’t be taking Apple’s iPad lightly. The New York Times reports that Amazon recently purchased a New York based company named Touchco that specializes in touchscreen technology, a feature which the Kindle obviously lacks. Amazon will reportedly merge Touchco’s employees and technology into its Kindle hardware division, a move which is an obvious response to the iPad.
Touchco uses a technology called interpolating force-sensitive resistance, which it puts into displays that can be completely transparent and could cost as little as $10 a square foot. The capacitive touch screens used in the iPad and iPhone are considerably more expensive. Unlike those screens, the Touchco screens can also detect an unlimited number of simultaneous touch points.
Touchco’s technology uses resistors that are sensitive to different levels of pressure. It has said its screens can distinguish between the touch of a finger and the pressure of a pen or similar pointing device. The company had designed its technology to work well with full-color LCD screens, similar to those used in the iPad and Hewlett-Packard’s coming line of tablet PCs. The technology could allow Amazon to introduce a full-color touch-screen Kindle, raising the question of whether the device’s current displays, which are made by a company called E Ink will play a role in the next round of reading devices.
Apple’s recently announced iPad, of course, can not only do everything the Kindle can do, but can do a whole lot more. And at the same price as a Kindle DX, it’s no wonder that Amazon needs to act quickly to make the Kindle more of an appealing purchase. But give in the qualatative advantage already inherent in the iPad (color screen, iTunes, app store, Safari), it doesn’t seem that Amazon has enough time to play catch up.
You can read more on the acquisition over here.