E Ink’s paper-like displays are low-power screens that offer a paper-like viewing experience. They’re easily visible with ambient lighting (so an artificial light is optional). And they can display a static image indefinitely since they only consume power when you change what’s on the screen.
Up until recently most E Ink displays were black and white. But E Ink has been making strides in color electronic paper for eReaders and tablets in recent years. And now the company has unveiled E Ink Spectra 6, its first full-color screen designed for digital signage applications. The company has begun showing off the technology at trade shows, and says we should see the screens hit the streets sometime in 2024.
E Ink’s Spectra display technology basically uses millions of microcups, each with several different color particles in a clear fluid. When a positive, negative, or split charge is applied, different particles can float to the top where they’re visible.
E Ink Spectra 3000 introduced a 3-particle system with support for black, white, and red. E Ink Spectra 3100 added a fourth particle to support yellow. But the new E Ink Spectra 6 system has 6 different color particles which E Ink says can be combined to depict full-color images. According to the company, the result is “a level of color saturation and vividness never before seen in a reflective display.”
The company says E Ink Spectra displays will be available in a variety of sizes with support for pixel densities up to 200 pixels per inch. Designed for signage, the displays should be able to work in temperatures ranging from 0 to 50 degrees Celsius (32 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit), which means they could be used outdoors in some climates, but are most likely going to be safer to use indoors in others.
The press release doesn’t say anything about power consumption or
page refresh times. But given that E Ink is positioning these displays as solutions for signage rather than tablets or eReaders, I’m guessing that they won’t be fast enough for video playback or other high-motion graphics.
But E Ink does say that they support a “partial image flashing effect” called E Ink Sparkle, which could help draw people’s eyes to the displays.
Update (5-26-2023): E Ink showed off its Spectra 6 screens at Display Week 2023, where Charbax got a good look and recorded an interview with E Ink’s Associate Vice President Tim O’Malley. Among other things, we learned that a full screen refresh takes about 12 seconds, so these displays are clearly better suited to digital signage than eReaders or tablets, as they’re designed to show a static high-color image rather than high-motion graphics.
This article was first published April 6, 2023 and most recently updated May 26, 2023.