Long Beach, Calif. -- Electronic paper seems to be coming of age. E Ink Corp. exhibited a slew of recently launched products at the Society for Information Display conference here last week. The Cambridge, Mass., company also showed flexible-display prototypes from half a dozen E Ink customers, signaling a rapid advancement in flexible displays across the industry in the past year.
Meanwhile, Nemoptic talked about its first-generation product for electronic shelf labels for grocery stores, a $10 billion market. Also at SID, Nemoptic launched its A4 e-paper display for application in business and government offices and point-of-sale displays. The company has already shipped samples to major office equipment suppliers.
Notable "world firsts" using E Ink technologies included a flexible, color 14-inch electronic-paper panel from LG.Philips LCD on steel foil and the biggest-ever glass monochrome electronic-paper panel--40 inches on the diagonal--from Samsung Electronics.
E Ink also announced that a research breakthrough in its ink chemistry has achieved video-switching speeds for the first time.
"Our research team is demonstrating here an ultrabright ink that is approaching 50 percent reflectance of ambient light, compared to 35 percent in shipping monochrome products," said Michael McCreary, vice president of research and advanced development at E Ink.
Samsung Electronics demonstrated a 40-inch display using E Ink's Vizplex technology, which consumes 300 milliwatts at one frame per minute, or 1/500th the power of a conventional LCD. Such a display using electronic ink would be appropriate for digital signage and office information applications, according to E Ink.
One of the most popular e-books incorporating E Ink displays is Arinc's eFlyBook, the general aviation e-reader used by commercial pilots to look up airport takeoff-and-landing approaches.
Jacques Noels, CEO and president of the management board of Nemoptic, has defined six strategic segments with differentiated features and display sizes for his company's BiNem technology. They range from 1 x 3-inch electronic shelf labels to e-books, newspapers, albums and larger (10- to 14-inch) displays for the education and professional markets.
Noels said that when paper was invented in 300 B.C., nobody could have envisioned that Xerox would begin research on an electronic version to replace papyrus some 2,300 years later.
Today, his company is attempting to do just that. Headquartered near Paris with a production unit in Sweden, Nemoptic is applying its bistable nematic technology to LCDs. Display content remains on view without using any power, thanks to the technology's internal-memory effect.
Nemoptic has signed on with Seiko Instruments Inc. for high-volume manufacturing of its bistable LCDs at Seiko's Microtechno plant in Akita, Japan. The first units are expected to roll out at the end of the second quarter. The Seiko plant is considered one of the foremost sites for high-volume production of color supertwisted-nematic LCDs.