E-Paper Coming Into Its Own

E-paper displays could be coming into their own.Last week, Fujitsu announced a nifty colour terminal with an e-paper display which runs Windows CE, and the French company Nemoptics, headed up by ex-Thomson Semiconductors’ boss Jacques Noels, announced it’s moving into volume production of e-paper displays with Seiko Instruments.

E-paper isn’t, of course, paper at all. It’s a polymer sheet. It’s reflective so it doesn’t need backlighting, and it doesn’t emit light. It’s bistable, so the image remains even if the power is turned off. It only needs power again when the image is to be changed. I’m convinced, though I haven’t been able to validate it, that my super-cheap Motofone has an e-paper display. And it’s fine even if the characters are like those of the primitive LEDs. E-paper is just what the electronics industry needs. It has the potential for being bendable and rollable. It is very thin. It uses little power. Above all it has the potential to be very cheap. The biggest application is for supermarket shelf displays containing product info and prices, but others will undoubtedly follow. At the end of the day, what sparks electronics revolutions is simplicity not complexity. Loads of companies try to sell on functions, but people buy on simplicity and price. ON WEDNESDAY; TEN BEST BRITISH CHIP COMPANIES.

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