Wednesday, November 28, 2007

EInk to go Colour

The current e-readers such as Sony and the Kindle are not unlike the initial print on demand services - only available in black. However E-paper pioneer EInk -the company whose technology underpins them and others is now prototyping electronic ink that is bright enough to support filters for vivid colour displays, and that have a fast-enough refresh rate to render video. This could offer a significant boost to the current one dimensional pretenders.

It all sounds so simple, ‘The basic technology uses a layer of microcapsules filled with flecks of sub micrometer black and white pigment chips in a clear liquid. The white chips can be positively charged, the black chips negatively charged. Above this layer is a transparent electrode; at the base is another electrode. A positive charge on the bottom electrode pushes the white chips to the surface, making the screen white. A negative charge pushes the black chips up, rendering words and images.’

E Ink has been refining the total mix; the ingredients, the electronics, and the mechanics of that process. By achieving a higher level of brightness E Ink can use transparent red, green, or blue filters affixed above the picture elements and render colour. In addition E Ink have found s ways to improve the speed at which the particles can move. The results is a e-reader that can display vivid colour images and another a video clip from the animation movie ‘Cars’.

E Ink is working with display manufacturers to develop flexible bendable and even rollable displays.So the future looks very different to today and the change looks as potentially as dramatic as that between the original mobile phone bricks and today’s iPhone.