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1/7/2010
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E-Reader Platforms Debut At CES

Electronic book reader platforms are being launched by Texas Instruments, Marvell, AU Optronics, and Kurzweil Technologies at CES.

Blio E-Book Reader Platform
(click image for larger view)
Blio E-Book Reader Platform
It's not just e-book readers in hardware form on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Electronic book reader platforms from Texas Instruments, Marvell, AU Optronics, and Kurzweil Technologies are also being announced at the show.

Blio, from Kurzweil Technologies and the National Federation of the Blind, is a software design that displays image-rich formats for books and magazines on Mac and Windows computers. The product, which will be available to consumers later this month, features a read-aloud feature with synthesized voice capability.

"E-books should be more than digital copies of a printed page," said voice recognition inventor Ray Kurzweil in a statement. "We moved the experience from the boring 16 shades of grey text to an exciting level. And we do it without adding another costly piece of hardware to lug around." Kurzweil is the founder of knfb, which has developed Blio.

New e-reader platform developments from Texas Instruments and its partners are promising to lead to another wave of devices. Texas Instruments said more than 10 e-reader manufacturers are using its platform to develop new devices that are expected to be available before the year is out.

The Texas Instruments platform is built around the firm's low-power, OMAP 3 processor family that will enable users to read text on an electrophoretic display while scanning the Internet on a second display at the same time. Texas Instruments said it is using a DSP-based software display to drive E Ink's Vizplex electrophoretic display.

In an example of cooperation across components and software suppliers, AU Optronics is working with Texas Instruments and Marvell Semiconductor on advanced e-reader designs.

Marvell said it is working with AU Optronics to develop a reference design platform to support AU Optronics' electronic paper display panels. The design features Marvell's ARMADA 166 processor and is aimed at delivering the next-generation of ultra-thin, ultra-light e-readers.

"We are at a critical stage in the growth of the global market for e-readers," said Weilli Dai, Marvell co-founder, in a statement. "The key continues to be raising performance while lowering price. We are entering a new consumer era -- where consumers demand always-on instant access to high-quality live video and digital content and information."

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