E Ink may be best known for making the ePaper screens found in digital book readers like the Amazon Kindle and B&N NOOK. But there are plenty of other ways to use a high contrast display which only draws power when the image on the screen is changing.
At CES this week the company has been showing off some of those uses, including watches with E Ink displays, digital price tags that can be changed on a store shelf without removing the tag, and smartphones with sunlight readable displays.
The company is also showing off some of its new flexible displays as well as color screens.
E Ink has been working on color displays for years, but few color E Ink devices have shipped to date. Part of the reason is that while the screens can display 4096 colors, they look dull and muted, and hardly better than gray when compared with a vibrant LCD or OLED display.
One way to address that issue is by adding a front-light to a display to make the colors pop a bit more. E Ink is showing off an eReader prototype featuring just such an illuminated display, and it really does look pretty good.
The folks at PocketBook have also announced that they plan to launch a front-lit color eReader using this sort of technology soon.
As for flexible displays, we’re not quite at the point where you can fold up an E Ink screen and turn it into a paper airplane (without doing some serious damage to the screen). But you can use a flexible display to create some unusual designs including a wristwatch with an E Ink display that bends around your arm or an eReader that’s slightly curved to make reading more comfortable.
It’s also a lot harder to crack a flexible display, so if you drop your device on the floor, there’s a better chance it’ll go unscathed.
The watch E Ink is showing off at the moment is called the CST-01. The makers are running a Kickstarter campaign to move from the prototype phase into the actually making-and-selling-a-watch phase. If they raise the $200,000 they’re seeking within the next month and a half, early adopters will be able to pick up CST-01 watches for $99, while others will have to pay $129 or more.