E Ink displays don’t require a lot of power, which is why devices like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK eReaders can run for weeks at a time with relatively tiny batteries.
But a team of folks from Microsoft Research have developed a prototype for an E Ink device that you never have to plug in at all. That’s because it has a solar panel that can convert light into electricity… and it doesn’t even have to be sunlight.
This little gadget can draw all the power it needs from indoor office lighting. But it’s not really meant for reading eBooks.
Instead, the team has developed a small display that’s designed to be a sort of digital Post-it Note.
Just create a note on a PC or smartphone, send it to the screen via Bluetooth, and it’ll remain visible until you send a message to change the text or graphics on the screen.
The “energy-harvesting situated display” uses Bluetooth Low Energy and a low-resolution display, which is part of the reason you won’t want to do any serious reading with this gadget. But everything fits into a compact case with a sticky back, allowing you to adhere the ePaper screen to your desk, monitor, or any other place you might want to post a reminder.
It’s not clear if this technology will ever show up in a commercial product. But it’s certainly an interesting project that takes advantage of low-power, persistent display technology and solar charging.