April 11, 2012 at 3:29 PM ET
Last week it was revealed that new e-ink Kindles would sport new screens that would glow softly.
Amazon purchased Finnish light-guide firm Oy Modilis in 2010, which makes a certain kind of light-transmitting film, and the bookseller plans to use it in the next generation of its popular e-reader. But it looks like Amazon may not be the only e-reader maker with that feature. According to bookstore signage spotted by The Digital Reader, Barnes & Noble may introduce a glowing e-reader, too.
Kindle's version of the glowing e-ink display uses LEDs in the bezel, which shine light through a layer of special material, bouncing the light downward onto the screen at an even rate.
Amazon claims the version it bought with Oy Modilis is the most advanced in the world. Barnes & Noble, it seems, found another way to do the same thing, and calls it "GlowLight." Similar functions exist, such as that provided by Flex Lighting, which advertised its technology last year.
Both techniques differ from backlit LCDs in that they bounce light downward off the passive e-ink screen rather than through an active LCD. The result is a softer, but less bright, form of illumination -- possibly more comfortable for cloudy days and reading in bed without a lamp. Neither product has a release date, but as the new Nook was recently delivered to Barnes & Noble retail stores, it will probably be arriving soon.