Briefly Noted: Kindle Touch and Frickin’ Laser Beams

How does the new Kindle touchscreen work?

CNN has the answer: (“Kindle Touch’s secret weapon: Lasers”)

Capacitive touch, the touchscreen technology on most devices we’re familar with (such as Android devices, iPhones, iPads, etc.) involves a layer that resides on top of the display* — and when it comes to reading with e-ink displays, introduces a problem of glare.

Infrared laser technology, the kind already found in e-reading devices such as Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Sony e-readers, works a little differently. And, this Amazon believes, creates an overall improved e-reading experience.

“Applying a capacitive-touch layer to e-ink, the black-and-white display that looks like paper, darkens the screen, said Sriram Peruvemba, an executive for E Ink, the company that makes the popular screens in e-readers, in an interview on Wednesday.

For that reason, the Kindle Touch relies on infrared sensors, which are stationed along the edges around the screen to detect when the user’s finger touches a particular spot on the device’s face, an Amazon spokeswoman said.”

* If you really want to know all about how Capacitive Touch works, check out: “How Stuff Works: Touch Screens.” Science!


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

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