CRT, LCD, Plasma, LED, OLED ... new ideas have to start somewhere; a good effort. The material used in this prototype has bulk characteristics and the slow refresh rate is expected. A little materials science and a new thermochromic formula might result in a nano-particle material that will respond faster to changes in applied thermal energy.
HI Caleb. Yeah, I don't think it would be worth the effort either. Peltier might be worth a try but I don't know if you can get them that small. Thinks - since the thermochromic stuff does different colours, maybe you could make a colour dispolay by using different drive levels.....
The video is pretty amateurish and does not do this great idea justice. Use a tripod to keep the camera still, and sort out your lighting to minimise reflections (with a curved surface like this, use side lighting). And show us how fast it can change.
@Templar...good idea, but that needs consumables - bad news. You might be able to just use compressed air though. I was thinking miniature peltier modules - use a lot of them to make segments or a dot matrix. Depending how you drive them they will heat or cool. You'd probably only have to cool temporarily to erase, but to display you'd have to keep current flowing - but then you do at the moment with the NiChrome wire.
I doubt this will be a game-changing display technology but it could take off for aesthetic reasons - it is quite pretty....
When I read that the refresh rate was slow a thought popped into my head on how to possibly speed it up. Could a micro-miniature solenoid valve be used to dispense cold spray to the rear of the display? The -60F cold spray should take only milliseconds to essentially "erase" the heat generated character.
The valve could be controlled by the Arduino that's driving the heating coils, and with a little adjustment to direction, spread, and duration it may be able to dispense the cold spray so that the "erase" mode gets to be very precise as far as timing and perhaps even location is concerned.