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December 20, 2005

Philips Spin-off Creates An 'iPod' For The Written Word

Courtesy of EE Times

LONDON — A Royal Philips Electronics spin-off company has developed a wirelessly-connected “electronic reader” tablet based on a high-contrast "electronic paper" display technology from E Ink Corp.

The spin-off, iRex Technologies BV (Eindhoven, the Netherlands), claims that its wireless e-reader can be viewed outdoors in sunshine or shadow. The e-reader allows users to write comments, mark or underline sections to provide a paper-like experience, the company claimed.

"Iliad" is iRex’s first-generation electronic reader product. It is due to become available from April 2006 and can be customized to create versions for different business-to-business markets.

The 8.1-inch display with a 16-level greyscale combines wireless networking, touch-screen technologies and nonvolatile memory. The company said this allows content to be downloaded from the Internet, from a PC or loaded via flash memory cards. It can also capture user input.

IRex Technologies BV has been working with Philips and E Ink since 2001. Philips has also been working with E Ink on flexible displays. IRex Technologies is linked to multiple flexible display initiatives, which it may introduce in a second-generation e-reader.

"We focus explicitly on B2B partners. For news, educational and professional publishers this means delivering to their audience, regardless of location, with the immediacy of the Internet and the ease and flexibility of paper-based reading," Hans Brons, CEO of iRex Technologies, said in a statement. "The always-up-to-date information and low-cost structure should make it easier to reach and even define new markets.”

Although iRex is emphasizing the B2B market, the company said some Iliads would be made available for purchase over the Internet in April.

iRex Technologies is backed by equity investors ABM AMRO Capital and Main Capital, but the value of the investment was not disclosed. E Ink is backed by Philips and includes among its investors and strategic partners Toppan Printing Company, Royal Philips Electronics, Hearst Corp., Intel Capital, CNI Ventures, Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Vossloh Information Technologies and Motorola Inc.

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