E Ink shows off flexible, color ePaper displays

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 watch

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.

  • boonesimpson

    hmm, me thinks by the time the pebble watch ships, these sort of flexi – eink watches will be the rage.

    • ddevine

      Pebble is in Mass Production phase right now – shipping in just a few weeks for certain.
      This one does look pretty cool though.

      • boonesimpson

        yeah I know they were going to have their announcement, but the pebble (and many other KS’s) have been the butt of jokes in regards to slipped ship dates.

      • ddevine

        Pebble has been extremely transparent and upfront through the whole thing (unlike many other KS projects). They’ve handled the delays admirabily and I’m confident that the product will be worth the wait from what I’ve seen recently.

        The main reason its taken a bit longer is because nobody really knew how popular it was going to be so a lot of up-scaling of both the manufacturing and vision for the product was needed when millions of dollars and thousands of backers appeared.

        Though yes, they’re still the butt of jokes unfortunately.

  • http://www.intorobotics.com/ Robotics

    flexible ePaper screens could be the solution for manufacturers to introduce in coming years on the market 100% flexible devices. As I can see there are a lot of flexible e-papers technology already in tests http://www.flexible-display.net/category/e-paper/