E Ink Corporation, Philips Electronics, and Toppan Printing are showing off a prototype of an ebook reader that uses the “electronic ink” display that they have developed over the past several years.
The screen will be covered with a layer of minute spheres with oppositely-charged dark and light particles inside. By applying a small bit of power, each sphere can be made to appear black or white.
Electronic Ink displays deliver the readability of paper without backlighting and are thin and light. The latest prototype is almost 6 inches across and, according to the three companies, weighs half what a comparable LCD does, and is half as thick, too.
The display has a resolution of 160 pixels per inch (ppi) and can maintain its image without power, drawing current only when it changes, which means batteries can be smaller and last longer.
The first ebook reader with an electronic ink screen is expected to be available later this year. Pricing is not yet available.
Other Applications Coming Soon
Though the first device with an electronic ink display will be a dedicated ebook reader, the obvious advantages of this type of screen means they will almost certainly turn up in traditional handhelds and smart phones in the future.
Well aware that many users aren’t interested in monochrome displays, the three companies are working on a color version intended for all kinds of portable devices.
Thanks to MIT Technology Review for the tip.