Electronic Paper Gets Flexible

By  |  Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 10:13 am

When I first saw E-Ink electronic paper more than a decade ago at MIT’s Media Lab, it was in the form of a big, ad banner that was as flexible as a piece of dead-tree paper. These days, E-Ink is pervasive–or at least as pervasive as e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook are–but so far, it’s always been enclosed in a rigid case.

But here are some fascinating photos of a 19-inch LG electronic paper display that looks like a floppy piece of newspaper. I’m not clear what an e-reading device based on this screen would look like–processors, memory, and batteries aren’t so flexible–but the idea of an electronic newspaper you can fold up is entertaining, at least. Even though I’m not sure offhand what the benefit would be.

So are you intrigued?



5 Comments For This Post

  1. Larry Says:

    Intrigued? Definitely! The benefit? Devices that can have a smaller footprint for carrying and a larger footprint for reading. Look at the com devices on Earth: Final Conflict. If flexible e-ink can go color the possibilities are endless for the personal devices.

  2. John Baxter Says:

    The return of the scroll. Finally.

  3. Chris Donahue Says:

    A roll-up screen for a real small portable device.

  4. pond Says:

    Agreed. A larger-scale Radius rollup would be an option, with batteries and chips in the baton. Or how about a movie-screen adaptation? Pull it down from the wall for your 10-foot black and white newspaper.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Says:

    Do not want.

    E-ink has 2 problems, both having to do with the color gray: 1) it can only show an imitation of ugly gray newsprint, which means newspaper columns and pulp fiction, not the other 90% of the bookstore and 100% of the Web which is in color, and 2) most of the people who buy an e-Ink device have gray hair, young people have no idea why you would buy a screen with no light in it, and no way to show the Web and video. I saw someone using a Kindle with a book light attached to it, that is just insane nostalgia.

    Color LCD screens are almost 300 dpi now, and fast enough for not only video but also games. 300 dpi is the resolution of the photography and art books at the bookstore, the resolution of all the digital masters of books that were made during the last 20 years. And now that it is common to read an article about movies on the Web and see actual movie clips inline, books about movies also need that. The screen captures in computer books need to be an animation of the entire technique, the hyperlinks need to be hot and you need a full Web browser. There’s no going back to newsprint.

    The iPod did well because it can play the entire history of recorded music at essentially full-quality — what vinyl gains in oomph it loses in pops, and what CD gains in density it loses in errors and skips — so what is needed to be the “iPod of books” is a device that can not only show you your mystery/romance/sci-fi novels and old school news articles, but also can show you every other book in the bookstore.

    A roll-up screen may be good for mobile applications, but it needs its own light, it needs color, it needs to be able to show video or it’s not going to be a mass market success. The so-called iGeneration is like 25 years old now, and even the previous Generation X has had the Web since around college. None of us are longing for the newspaper to come back in all its gray glory. For a big portable screen, the little projectors that can put a large touchscreen on a table top look to be about 1000 times more practical.