Archive for E-Paper
LG is quietly refining their flexible e-paper technology and has actually seen some commercial success along the way. New innovations will pave the way for super large screen displays that will transcend into the television arena.
In 2012 LG first entered the flexible e-paper arena and developed a screen that was crafted from a flexible plastic substrate, the display measuring 0.03 inches (0.7 millimeters) thick and weighs 0.5 ounces (13 grams), making it one-third slimmer and half the weight of currently available glass EPD devices. LG also has made it fairly durable with it being able to easily withstand dropping it from up to six feet. The battery life is also fairly amazing with two or three months of usage. Russian based e-reader company Wexler was the only company to adopt the LG technology into their Flex One.
LG has just announced a massive, 18-inch OLED display that can be rolled up into a tight cylinder with a radius of just 3 centimeters (1.2 inches). In addition, LG has mentioned they developed a version that was highly transparent.
The flexible 18-inch OLED display has a fairly paltry resolution that clocks in at 1280×810. The main breakthrough seems to be the use of polyimide for the display’s backplane. Polyimides are strong, flexible plastics that are already used extensively in the electronics industry — for example in the ribbon that attaches a laptop’s display to the motherboard, which is put through huge stresses during thousands of open/close cycles. LG says it achieved “maximum curvature radius” because polyimide allowed for a much thinner and flexible backplane than “conventional plastic.”
Truly flexible e-paper technology that can be rolled up, able to be read and folded up again is the holy grail. It not only can be used in the e-reader sector, but also smartwatches and advertising. The one hindrance in mass adoption is the fact the motherboards, battery, processor, RAM and most other internal components are not designed to be flexible and this will require a monumental effort by the entire supply chain to make a future of flexible e-paper a reality.
One of the big benefits of e-Ink technology is that it draws no power when a simple static image is being displayed or when you are reading a page in an eBook. The only time power is being drawn is when a full page refresh occurs or if you are interacting with the screen. A new LCD initiative is underway at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They have developed a new type of LCD screen that works in a similar fashion to e-Ink. It can hold a static image for years, with no power.
The University has developed Optical Rewritable liquid crystal technology that carries no electrodes and uses polarizer’s as a substitute. It will show images in full color, but not draw any power as the image is shown. This would be tremendously beneficial to luggage tags, grocery price-tags or even in the next generation of color e-reader.
There are many benefits to what this technology is capable of, in regards to previous screens made by Pixel QI or Plastic Logic. First of all, the lack of electrodes means the ORWLCD panel can be much thinner than a conventional LCD. It also uses much less power, requires no plastic substrate, is simpler to construct, and therefore cheaper to manufacturer for mass production.
The technology as a whole is going one step further, by incorporating 3D elements. The report states “The whole panel has been divided into three parts with different image appearance. One for the left eye, a second for the right eye, and a third for the background and front of the image. The complete 3D image with a good light printer can be updated on the ORWLCD panel in one step and thereafter could be permanently stored without consuming any power. With the feasibility of one-step 3D image writing, wide-viewing angles, high contrast and low power consumption, this technology is suitable for many applications.”
I would kill for an e-reader for full color LCD that had the battery life of e-Ink. The one problem I have with reading on an Android tablet or iPad is that I have to charge it on a daily basis. This ORWLCD does have promise, but whether it gets out of the research and development phase is another matter entirely.
Typewriters burst onto the literary scene in the 1860s’s and quickly became indispensable tools for authors to quickly write their next book. They fell out of favor in the 1980’s as the world started to embrace digital publishing, which provided the ability to spellcheck their work and send manuscripts quickly to agents and friends. A new product called the Hemingwrite, seeks to marry the old school typewriter with a modern digital version.
The Hemingwrite is designed to aid both the new and established writer by providing a robust writing tool that completely removes all distraction from our daily connected lives. Wifi connectivity has been included to sync to the cloud but without a browser or email client there will be no playing angry birds or checking email. The Hemingwrite is designed for one thing and one thing only: putting words on a page.
This device features a full fledged mechanical keyboard, so you get that tectonic feel of interacting with a high-grade keyboard. You can see what you are writing, thanks to the six inch e-Ink display, the same e-paper found on the Amazon Kindle. This will result in over ten weeks of battery life, perfect for a small writing retreat.
One of the things I really like is the built in syncing processes with a number of online storage services, such as Google Docs, Dropbox or Evernote. This will give you a place to store your eBook and serve as a backup source for all of your revisions. If you want to just write, the developers behind this product boast that device storage will easily handle over one million pages.
The Hemingwrite is still in the prototype phase. The device has actually made it as a semi-finalist for Engadget’s Insert Coin inventor’s competition and will be debuting the device at the Engadget Expand NY conference on November 7th and 8th.
Avid consumers find themselves with a wallet or purse full of credit and gift cards. Startup Plastc is seeking to solve this situation with the advent of the Plastc Card. It utilizes touchscreen e-ink technology and you can add all of your credit, debit, gift and loyalty cards to one single card and flip between them with a single touch.
Plastc helps you pay any way and anywhere you want. It features a magnetic stripe and barcode display, your Plastc Card will work in all the places you already frequent. The card employs NFC, Chip and PIN capabilities and you can even attach your photo ID to the card. Within the next few months it will have support for Google Wallet, Apple Pay, PayPal and other payment options.
The one cool thing about this new card is that the magnetic stripe and NFC chip are disabled until you select your card, preventing any fraudulent activity. If you end up losing the card, you can remotely wipe all data from it using the official app.
So how does this actually work? Well, you need to download the Plastic Companion app for iOS and Android. You can link any of your credit cards, debit cards or gift cards by inputting the numbers into the app. You can also add in a signature and photo ID for those big purchases. Once this is all done, you can use the card at the ATM or when you are shopping. If you have a bunch of cards tied into the Plastc Card, you can just swipe the physical card to scroll between them.
While the idea of combining of multiple credit, debit, and gift cards into one secure package may be an enticing tech novelty, the card comes at a price: $155 to preorder. It will not start shipping until summer 2015. It also operates on a rechargeable battery with a 30-day charge. In the end, I think this is one of the coolest uses of e-ink that is not found on a dedicated e-reader like a Kindle or Nook.
The Inkcase Plus is a new secondary screen for the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Note. It connects to the back and allows you to reap the benefits of dedicated e-readers like the Kindle. It has just passed FCC certification and will be available to purchase for $79.
The InkCase eReader features a 3.5 inch, 360 x 600 pixel grayscale ePaper display which is visible in direct sunlight without a backlight. The low-power screen also only uses electricity when you refresh the page, so it should get up to 5 days of battery life from the device’s 400mAh battery. One of the cool things is you can attach it to your phone or read independently, which actually makes it a dedicated e-reader.
So how does this contraption actually work? You have to connect it up to your phone via Bluetooth. This allows you to download specific apps and use it on the secondary display. So if you want to read eBooks, you need EpiReader. In order to attach it to your phone, you need a pouch or Fitcase Plus.
The Sony Digital Paper is a massive 13.3 inch PDF reader that is chiefly geared towards note editing and editing. This is the first device Sony has made that leveraged its decade of experience in the e-reader sector to carve out a niche in the business world. Recently, I was tremendously dismayed to find out that this $1,100 device only has a ten page limit in note taking.
There are two ways that you will use the Sony Digital Paper on a daily basis; editing PDF files and making notes. Note taking is especially excellent because you can write, while resting your wrist on the screen and it only recognizes the stylus. When you craft a note, you can add an annotation, which either can be a written with the stylus or with the keyboard. When you are all done taking notes, using the standalone app, it is automatically saved as a PDF file, you can then export to your PC or send to Dropbox.
Sony markets the Digital Paper towards students, lawyers and entertainment professionals. The type of people that are known for taking a massive amount of notes on a daily and weekly basis. The ten page limit on an individual PDF document makes little sense, as power users will easily exceed this threshold.
Graphene is one of the strongest materials ever made and is designed to be totally flexible. It is more conductive than copper and it only has a layer of carbon one-atom thick. Discovered just under a decade ago, researchers have fervently been developing practical applications.
Cambridge researchers have just developed a flexible e-paper display screen using Graphene. The new prototype is an active matrix electrophoretic display, similar to the screens used in today’s e-readers, except it is made of flexible plastic instead of glass. In contrast to conventional displays, the pixel electronics, or backplane, of this display includes a solution-processed graphene electrode, which replaces the sputtered metal electrode layer within Plastic Logic’s conventional devices, bringing product and process benefits.
The new 150 pixel per inch (150 ppi) backplane was made at low temperatures (less than 100°C) using Plastic Logic’s Organic Thin Film Transistor (OTFT) technology. The graphene electrode was deposited from solution and subsequently patterned with micron-scale features to complete the backplane.
“We are happy to see our collaboration with Plastic Logic resulting in the first graphene-based electrophoretic display exploiting graphene in its pixels’ electronics,” said Professor Andrea Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre. “This is a significant step forward to enable fully wearable and flexible devices. This cements the Cambridge graphene-technology cluster and shows how an effective academic-industrial partnership is key to help move graphene from the lab to the factory floor.”
“The potential of graphene is well-known, but industrial process engineering is now required to transition graphene from laboratories to industry,” said Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Plastic Logic. “This demonstration puts Plastic Logic at the forefront of this development, which will soon enable a new generation of ultra-flexible and even foldable electronics”
Michael Kozlowski and Peter Carotenuto of Good e-Reader have another roundtable discussion on the evolution of the Sony consumer e-Reader brand. They discuss important milestones, such as the advent of touch, the incorporation of a stylus and releasing the first front-lit e-reader.
The entire e-reader industry owes Sony a debt of gratitude for pioneering major technologies. The company has announced exclusively to Good e-Reader that they are abandoning the consumer space and that the PRS-T3 e-reader will be the last one they make. Instead, they are focusing on the business segment with the Sony DPT-S1 Digital Paper.
During the roundtable we discuss the ramifications of exiting the eBook and e-reader space, how Kobo is benefiting and how the customers are responding to dealing with a new ecosystem.
Corning is the display screen company that is very well known for their Gorilla Glass. It has been synonymous with smartphones and tablets and used for higher durability and resistance to the rigors of daily use. Corning has overestimated the market and is seeing a lack of demand for their technology.
According to the Wall Street Journal “Gorilla Glass has faced headwinds, with sales falling 17% last year as Corning worked through an inventory overhang after a bad bet on touch-screen laptops. ”
Overall, Corning reported a profit of $169 million, down from $638 million a year earlier. The worldwide tablet grew 11.0% year over year in the second quarter of 2014 with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation . Apple is currently one of Corning’s largest customers and they have reported shipping 13.3 million iPads during the third fiscal quarter of 2014, compared to 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.
When it comes down to public perception, Corning is basically known for their Gorilla Glass. What most people don’t know, is that this represents only 11% of their entire revenue stream and the majority from LCD televisions. That business jumped 62% year over year, while revenue from other specialty materials was merely flat.
There has been lots of buzz in the industry about Apple’s move into developing sapphire glass in conjunction with GT Advanced Technologies last November. Speculation is running rampant that their future devices will employ this ultra lightweight and scratch resistant technology into future products. Many experts cite shortages of the new material and that current plants cannot accommodate the demand of a massive launch. Apple alone plans for 80 million iPhone 6 models this year.
Corning will be a safe bet for the tablet industry for another few years. The market is maturing and less people are buying new devices or upgrading. We have seen similar trends plague the e-reader industry in recent years.
Many of the top e-Paper companies have developed flexible display screens that are relevant in smart watches and e-readers. The big problem is many of the internal components are not flexible, which results in bulky and cumbersome products. A new California startup has is developing a long-lasting, bendable, and rechargeable battery.
Imprint Energy, of Alameda, California, has been testing its ultrathin zinc-polymer batteries that are printed cheaply on commonly used industrial screen printers.
The batteries that power most e-Readers and smartphones contain lithium, which is highly reactive and has to be protected in ways that add size and bulk. This is why e-readers such as the Wexler Flexx One really never took off, although the screen was bendable the large battery prevented it from being truly flexible.
Brooks Kincaid, the company’s cofounder and president, says the batteries combine the best features of thin-film lithium batteries and printed batteries. Such thin-film batteries tend to be rechargeable, but they contain the reactive element, have limited capacity, and are expensive to manufacture. Printed batteries are nonrechargeable, but they are cheap to make, typically use zinc, and offer higher capacity.
3D printed batteries that are flexible and can be printed on a screen protector is especially compelling. e-Reader companies could eliminate the traditional Lithium Ion batteries and cut down on the weight of the device by almost half. This new technology could pave the way of a simple screen protector powering your eBook reader and when its low on juice, pop another one on.
E-Ink Holdings, the company responsible for e-paper found in the Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Sony may become profitable in the second half of 2014. This is mainly attributed to the growing orders for electronic tags from the US and Europe, and increased implementation for e-paper in smartphones and smartwatches.
On average e-Ink has been experiencing consistent quarterly losses in the last few quarters. Recently they reported $19.96 million dollars in the red in the first quarter of 2014.
Today Sony has begun to sell the DPT-S1 Digital Paper e-reader directly in the US. It is retailing for $1100, which is more cost effective than a few of their official distribution partners. The only catch, is that they don’t want to sell them to the average consumer.
Sony currently does not have any infrastructure to support the Digital Paper via phone, email or the internet. There simply is no way for the average person to call and have basic questions answered, such as how to load in your own PDF files. This is primarily why Sony wants to sell them to law firms and the entertainment industry, relying on their 3rd party vendors to provide all of the necessary support. Sony told Good e-Reader exclusively that “We want these to go to the right people, not just any people. We’ll definitely ask you why you’re buying this and what you’re going to use it for. This e-Reader is very expensive and we want to make sure its purchase is not going to waste.”
When calling the brand new Sony Business phone number you are basically interviewed. It is mandatory to open up an official Sony Business account and they stick with you on the phone while you receive confirmation emails. The few customer service reps Sony employs are mandated to vet prospective customers to insure they have a high level of technical knowledge and are a registered business. Corporations, LLC and sole proprietorships have the highest likelihood of being able to order a few units for themselves or co-workers. The average user will have to demonstrate that they have advanced knowledge of e-readers and won’t be bothering Sony with needless questions.
In an exclusive interview with the Sony Business Unit in the USA we asked why the device at $1100 is so expensive. They mentioned “The cost is so high because of numerous things. The first being because its writable; fully writable, huge Mobius screen, and 13 inches, that costs a lot right there. The next thing is longevity. This thing, as big as it is, has a 3 day battery life. We expect it to have that same 3 day battery life, 5 years down the road. Theres also stuff under patent, that I can’t really tell you about, but that costs a lot as well. Potential use value is another thing. This thing is THE BEST PDF device on the market right now and lawyers or university professors going through countless pages of material can be draining. This fixes all that. Also, office space is precious, and instead of having shelves and shelves of documents, this can fit it all into a thin body. This also cuts down on forests of paper being milled from trees.”
Many customers who want the Sony Digital Paper are currently flocking to Amazon, where a number of units are posted for sale. All of the units that originate from Japan, where University trials occurred last year. All of the Digital Paper e-readers available on Amazon have the Japanese firmware and do not have the ability to switch to English. Currently, there is no way for users outside of Japan to load in the English firmware and Sony verified with us they are investigating the matter. “We do not want those units to be sold bypassing our sales division.”
If you are an established company looking to buy a few Digital Papers for your business you can call the new phone number Sony launched today. 877-723-7669 Monday through Friday 8am to 6pm. It is important to note that they offer free next day shipping via FEDEX anywhere in the USA, but will not ship internationally.
Good e-Reader will have the Sony Digital Paper e-Reader in our studio next week. Expect a very comprehensive hands on review, unboxing and comparisons with other large screen e-readers on the market.
e-Readers and tablets have almost hit the glass ceiling in how they handle resolution. Pixel Density when reading makes a huge difference in the clarity and readability of fonts. New technology developed by researchers at Oxford might provide the future of e-reader tech with miniscule pixels half the width of a human hair.
The essence of the technology is miniscule layer of a phase-change material, that flips between two chemical states when hit with current.By sandwiching it between transparent electrodes, researches made pixels just 300 nanometres across. Within 5 years the screen technology should be ready for commercial prime time. Ushering in a new era of flexible, thin, high-resolution displays.
We didn’t set out to invent a new kind of display,’ said Professor Harish Bhaskaran of Oxford University’s Department of Materials, who led the research. ‘We were exploring the relationship between the electrical and optical properties of phase change materials and then had the idea of creating this GST ‘sandwich’ made up of layers just a few nanometres thick. We found that not only were we able to create images in the stack but, to our surprise, thinner layers of GST actually gave us better contrast. We also discovered that altering the size of the bottom electrode layer enabled us to change the colour of the image.’
The research suggests that flexible paper-thin displays based on the technology could have the capacity to switch between a power-saving ‘colour e-reader mode’, and a backlit display capable of showing video. Such displays could be created using cheap materials and, because they would be solid-state, promise to be reliable and easy to manufacture. The tiny ‘nano-pixels’ make it ideal for applications, such as smart glasses, where an image would be projected at a larger size as, even enlarged, they would offer very high-resolution.
One of the obvious benefits of this new screen technology would be in clearer, higher resolution fonts. Current E-Ink pixels are roughly 100 microns in size (for a 250 dpi display). 1 micron pixels would increase the size of the display buffer by 10000 times. Obviously new rendering engines would need to be developed to keep the refresh rate tremendously robust.