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The Future on Display

(September 2006) posted on Wed Sep 20, 2006

Exploring a New Generation of Signage and Graphics Materials

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By Ben P. Rosenfield

Jennifer Haight, spokesperson for E Ink, says, "We coat them onto a thin film, so there are millions of them. When you apply the charge, you'll be able to see the characters that you're programming in."

E Ink sells neither its electronic ink, nor its finished electronic-paper product, E Ink Imaging Film, to the general public. Instead, the company sells its technology as a module to companies like Sony, Citizen, Lexar, and others (Figure 2).

E Ink's first product was a signage system called Immedia. It was updated by way of wireless computer, and E Ink targeted its sale to retail stores. From there, the company launched Ink in Motion, a preprogrammed sign that cycles through a series of different images. Such a product could be used for dynamic P-O-P displays, shelf talkers, wall mounted graphics, and other applications. Haight says Ink in Motion can be just about any size, but units are typically 5 x 7 in. or 8.5 x 11 in. E Ink sells Ink in Motion through a distributor.

"It's not a static sign," Haight explains. With a color overlay, like a clear transparency with color printed on it, you effectively have a color sign. They're designed to be throwaways, although certainly not to the extent paper is. They run on two AA batteries."

E Ink shifted its focus almost solely to high-resolution displays when Sony signed on as a customer. The company's other area of interest is segmented displays, which Haight describes as simple, small-scale signage products. They can be found in watches, calculator displays, and the Lexar JumpDrive Mercury, which is pictured in Figure 2. Products such as the JumpDrive Mercury benefit from the bistable E Ink technology. The JumpDrive Mercury is a portable USB drive that is powered only when connected to a PC. Its E Ink segmented display indicates changes in available space, and the display continues to show the device's current status, even when the drive is disconnected from the PC.


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