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Some displays already have the two modes―alas don't remember what they're called, it's some variation of color eink. You get color indoors, or only black-on-white in sunlight.

Some ebook devices also have ‘backlight’―usually diffused light from the sides so it doesn't shine directly in the eyes. I think this is the crux of your idea, because currently even if you use lcd/oled with backlight, no-power eink will be severely washed out in comparison. And if eink gets good color and contrast in the future, it will then fulfill the two-mode technology.

I think you're talking about the displays that the original OLPC used: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Display

Yeah, apparently the Pixel Qi company is a spin-off from OLPC, and that's the name I've heard in the context of color eink tech (took me a while to remember it). Defunct since 2015, however.

The page on the wiki.laptop.org isn't too clear on the technology—presumably it's more complex than just LCD and eink slapped together. The Wikipedia page on the XO laptop seems to have some detail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OLPC_XO#Display

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