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.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and Verge.