E Ink has just begun to delivering its Advanced Color ePaper (ACeP) display products to clients in the digital signage sectors for verification. This is being done so they can start making EPD controllers and write the necessary software. E Ink hopes for this tech to start hitting mass production by the end of the year and start generating meaningful revenue sometime in 2019.
Initially customers have two different choices for ACeP; 32 and 13.3 inches. The 13.3 inch variant can display over 32,000 different colors and has a resolution of 1600 x 2500 pixels and 150 PPI. Old E ink Triton color epaper could only display 4,600 colors, so this is a huge step in the right direction.
The President of E Ink, Johnson Lee told Good e-Reader that “Since the debut of ACeP a few years ago, we have made many improvements on the platform, increasing both the color gamut and the update times. The current version of ACeP is the most sophisticated color ePaper available.”
ACeP achieves a full color gamut, including all eight primary colors, using only colored pigments. The display utilizes a single layer of electrophoretic fluid, which is controlled using voltages compatible with commercial TFT backplanes. The fluid can be incorporated into either microcapsule or Microcup structures. The richness of the colors is achieved by having all the colored pigments in every picture element (pixel) rather than the side-by-side pixel colors achieved with a CFA. This eliminates the light attenuation, which can be quite significant. Like regular E Ink ePaper, ACeP maintains the ultra-low-power and paperlike readability under all lighting conditions.
In developing ACeP, E Ink researchers solved the very complex problem of how to get reflective color at every pixel in a commercially viable structure. Other approaches have utilized stacked backplane structures that are complex, difficult to manufacture and costly. The E Ink approach utilizes only a single backplane. Many materials and waveform inventions were required to independently control the position of the multiple color pigments.
Will Advanced Color E-Paper ever be available for ereaders? Johnson did not rule it out. “The first applications we are targeting for ACeP is signage. I would not state that it will never be in ereaders; we do continuous work to improve refresh and update times, and it would have its own waveform that had similar properties to Regal. However, since ereaders are not our focus for this product line, we are not announcing a date to expect it.”
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.