Amazon buys touch-screen manufacturer to beef up Kindle

In an effort to play catch-up with the Apple iPad, Amazon has reportedly acquired Touchco, a New York start-up specializing in touch-screen technology.

According to the New York Times, the touch-screen technology developed by Touchco is substantially cheaper than the capacitative touch screens used for the iPad, at around $10 per square foot.

Called interpolating force-sensitive resistance (IFSR), the technique uses resistors to detect varying levels of pressure, and requires little power.

It allows screens to detect an unlimited number of simultaneous touch points, and to distinguish between the touch of a finger and the touch of a pen.

The Kindle’s current displays are made by E-ink, as are those of the Sony Reader. Amazon has resisted adding touch screen technology, on the basis that this would affect legibility.

But Touchco’s technology is claimed to be completely transparent, so that screen clarity would not be affected. It would also allow for a quicker move to color screens, as E-ink isn’t expected to release a colour version of its screens until next year.

There’s no comment from Touchco; indeed, its website says only that the company is no longer doing business.