E Ink has just reported for the first time in the past two years they had an overall loss of $8.79 million. This was primarily attributed to their investment in SES-imagotag, which cost $30.54 million. E Ink needed to have a majority stake in that company because they are the largest entity in e ink price tags, which are a small but growing segment for e-paper. Nearly 70% of the company’s total revenue last year came from e-paper displays used in e-readers.
One of the most interesting things of the E Ink earnings call was that they are going to focus on digital license plates with their e-paper technology. Last year the first-ever, interactive digital license plate, the so-called rPlate debuted at the North American International Auto Show. The rPlate, developed by Reviver consists of a 6″ x 12″ (15cm x 30cm) monochrome, bistable display reportedly sourced from Advantech. These dimensions are the same as typical U.S. license plates. The device contains the capability for wireless connectivity, a battery, a processor, a GPS, an accelerometer, RF sensors, storage and CAN bus access. (CAN bus or “Controller Area Network is a robust vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other in applications without a host computer.”) The license plate has an anti-reflective cover sheet. The company claims that the device is legible in and built to withstand all weather conditions.
Reviver is the first company to actually commercially release an E Ink license plate and it is available now for $699, plus a $7 monthly fee for the service. It remains to be seen if other companies will enter the digital license plate arena, much like they did for luggage tags and digital signage.
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 CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.