- E-paper Device Maker Folds
SOUTHAMPTON, England, July 20, 2009 – Polymer Vision, maker of the rollable e-paper display Readius, has folded, according to media reports.
The Southern Daily Echo reported that Polymer Vision has filed for protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy and has shuttered its offices at the Millbrook Technology Campus on the 16-acre NXP Semiconductors site near Southampton, putting 50 people out of work.
The Readius began as a 5-in. rollable greyscale display that would provide 30 continuous hours of reading time and folds in to become the size of a cell phone. Later features were added to give it mobile phone capabilities, such as 3.5G high-speed connnectivity. Prototypes of the device were shown at the last two Mobile World congresses, but the e-reader never appeared on the market.
The buzz, and demand, for electronic paper displays was dominated by the Amazon Kindle, which sold out in less than 6 hours when it was first introduced in November 2007 and was kept out of stock for the next five months through buyer demand. Several new models of the device were released earlier this year, including the Kindle DX, which has an accelerometer that automatically changes the display from portrait to landscape when the e-book is rotated 90°.
In the meantime, Eindhoven, Netherlands-based Polymer Vision, a spinoff of Royal Philips Electronics NV, continued to struggle to get financing to bring the Readius to market.
In April 2009, Wired magazine reported on its Web site that Polymer Vision had missed its projected launch date and might not launch at all if the company didn’t get an infusion of cash.
“Our whole supply chain is in place, but the device is not in market because, like many other companies, we have had financial difficulties,” CEO Karl McGoldrick told Wired. “The last nine months have been very difficult for young companies. This product should have been out in the market last year. It is really frustrating.”
He was talking to a few investors to refinance and get new funding, McGoldrick told Wired, and was confident of closing a deal in the next few weeks.
“We are ready to go into production, but all depends on exactly when the funding comes through,” he said in April. “Our display is perfect, and the device is solid. People look at rollable displays as something in the future, but it’s here, and we have it.”
Polymer Vision’s receivers were called in July 7 and employees laid off, according to media reports. There has been no word yet on what will happen to the company’s technology.
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