E Ink has been ramping up its color offerings over the past few years, but the company’s ePaper display technology isn’t the only game in town. AU Optronics unveiled a new color display recently that has some of the same benefits as ePaper, but which uses different technology that should make it cheaper and easier to manufacture.
The company showcased its 7.9 inch ChLCD display at the Touch Taiwan show last week.
The ChLCD (Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Display) is bistable, which means that like an E Ink display, it doesn’t use any power at all to display a static image. That means the display draws power every time the content on a screen is changed or refreshed, but once an image is already on the display it can remain there indefinitely.
That has the benefit of both reducing overall power consumption and of allowing the last image loaded to be viewed even in the absence of a power source.
Also, like E Ink displays, ChLCD screens are reflective and can be viewed using only ambient lighting, with no need for a backlight (although additional lighting may be necessary to view the screen in dark or dimly lit environments.
But unlike E Ink’s Kaleido displays, for example, there’s no color filter applied here, so you don’t lose screen resolution when viewing color content rather than black and white. And since many of the materials used to manufacture a ChLCD display are similar to what you’d use to make other LCD screens, the cost of mass producing this sort of display could be more affordable.
ChLCD technology has been around for more than a decade, but it hasn’t been widely adopted. But AU Optronics is now bettering that there may be increased demand for the displays thanks to the growing demand for low-power, sunlight visible displays due to the growth of IoT (Internet of Things) devices. In a recent earnings call, AU Optronics officials suggested that the displays could be appropriate for “education, transportation, and traffic” applications, among other things.
Whether we’ll see them in eBook readers or other consumer-oriented devices remains to be seen.