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Wednesday, February 03, 2010, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Amazon acquires touch-screen maker for future Kindle project

Amazon has purchased touch-screen startup Touchco, with plans to incorporate it into the Kindle's hardware division.

The New York Times reports that Amazon has acquired New York-based Touchco, a small start-up specializing in touchscreen technology. The company's interpolating force-sensitive resistance technology allows for flexible, transparent, pressure-sensitive touch-screens that could cost as little as $10 a square foot.

As a comparison, the capitative touch-screens in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad are more expensive and cannot detect the unlimited amount of simultaneous touch points that Touchco's technology allows.

Touchco's technology can reportedly distinguish between the differing pressures produced by a finger or stylus.

According to the Times, Touchco consists of around six employees and Amazon plans on incorporating both the new personnel and technology into its Kindle hardware division, named Lab126, which is located in Cupertino, Calif. - also home to Apple.

Apple's introduction of the iPad in January has already had an effect on Amazon's Kindle. Two major publishers have used Apple's content deals as leverage to negotiate new pricing agreements with the bookseller.

When Apple introduced the iPad last week, it also unveiled the new iBooks application for reading e-books. The software includes the iBookstore, which allows users to purchase content that will be displayed on their virtual bookshelf. Apple announced deals with five major book partners, including Macmillan and HarperCollins.

Amazon's purchase of Touchco can be thought of as a direct response to Apple's iPad, and the technology acquired could be included in the next iteration of its Kindle e-reader.

The Times writes, "Amazon has been looking to compete with Apple on other fronts as well. Last month, it announced plans for a Kindle applications store and an effort to get developers to create the same breadth of programs for the Kindle that they have created for the iPhone and, soon, the iPad."