E Ink isn't just for e-readers any more

December 24, 2014 by Troy Wolverton, San Jose Mercury News
Kindle DX

E-readers may be passe, but you could soon see the black-and-white, easy-to-read screens that helped make them a big hit in a lot more places and products.

Electronic paper, the low-power made popular by Amazon's Kindle and other e-readers, could soon be in and restaurants, maybe even on your wrist and in your pocket. While consumers read more on full-color devices, the displays, largely made by Taiwan-based E Ink, are finding new homes because of two unique qualities: they're easy to read in broad daylight and they sip power.

Electronic paper only uses electricity to change what's on the screen and doesn't require power in between. Unlike other display technologies, the screens were designed to be read with reflected ambient light, which means they are easy to read outdoors.

Those advantages helped make the standard screen technology in e-readers: The devices could go weeks between charges and allow consumers to easily digital books at the beach or on their deck.

Promoters of electronic paper and some industry analysts think those advantages will soon make it popular in other markets as well.

"They've got a good road ahead of them," Jon Peddie, principal analyst at Jon Peddie Research, said of E Ink.

Electronic paper, which started out as a project at legendary Silicon Valley research lab PARC in the 1970s, is built around microscopic spheres that are filled with charged particles. Apply a charge to the spheres and they will flip one way - perhaps showing black particles. Apply the opposite charge, and they will flip the other way, perhaps showing white.

Explore further: E Ink, maker of Kindle display, to offer color

Related Stories

E Ink, maker of Kindle display, to offer color

November 9, 2010

Up until now, people who have bought e-readers have had to make a compromise: either read in color on a highly reflective screen, or read in shades of gray on a display that's easy to make out even outdoors.

Putting color in 'e-reader' displays

July 14, 2010

Electronic readers (e-readers), those increasingly popular devices that replace ink on paper, may have color displays in the future thanks to new advances in display technology. That's among the topics highlighted in a three-part ...

Bridgestone is demonstrating its AeroBee e-reader

April 18, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most e-readers are E-Ink. On devices, such as the very popular Amazon Kindle, they allow users to have a clear and paper-like viewing experience, and no glare in high light or outdoor situations. The E-Ink ...

Barnes & Noble lights up e-reader screen

April 12, 2012

(AP) -- Barnes & Noble says it's tackling one of the shortcomings of black-and-white e-readers, by creating a screen that can be read in the dark.

E Ink broadens product mix, shows 32-inch display

June 5, 2014

Mention E Ink, and most people familiar with the company name associate it with a product for e-readers, but the company has been spreading its wings to apply its technology in broader areas. Technology watchers see E Ink ...

The next generation of E-ink may be on cloth (w/ video)

May 5, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most people have become familiar with E-ink through e-readers. Devices, such as the Amazon Kindle and the Nook, have brought a less limited version of the bookstore to the reader. E-ink technology works by ...

Recommended for you

Privacy becomes a selling point at tech show

January 7, 2019

Apple is not among the exhibitors at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, but that didn't prevent the iPhone maker from sending a message to attendees on a large billboard.

China's Huawei unveils chip for global big data market

January 7, 2019

Huawei Technologies Ltd. showed off a new processor chip for data centers and cloud computing Monday, expanding into new and growing markets despite Western warnings the company might be a security risk.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.