Electronic Ink Takes a Step Closer

One of the technologies to to keep an eye on for the future of handhelds is electronic ink. This is the general term for ultra thin, flexible displays made of thin-film transistors as well as a variety of printed conductor and semiconductor materials, including organic, plastic transistors. This is a hot area of research now and E Ink Corporation has just opened a facility in Massachusets to house its Microelectronics Technology Group. Their plan is to make electronic ink not just possible, but practical and cost effective.

"William Shockley announced the transistor in 1948, but it wasn't until Texas Instruments perfected a production method in the 1950s that you could actually buy one," noted Dr. Michael McCreary, E Ink's vice president of research and development. "Flexible transistors have been possible for several years, but we plan to be first to market by creating a commercial design and a production process that is suitable for high volumes."

E Ink's next generation displays deliver the readability of paper under virtually any conditions, without backlighting. And electronic ink displays can maintain their image without power, drawing current only when they change, which means batteries can be smaller and last longer.

Their new facility can handle displays up to an 18-inch diagonal.

E Ink has won an R&D 100 Award from R&D Magazine for its demonstration in November 2000 of the world's first working flexible active matrix display using plastic transistors from Lucent Technologies.

In June, Philips Components and E Ink Corporation showcased their first display prototypes of high-resolution Electronic Ink displays for handheld devices. These consist of a five-inch diagonal sheet of E Ink's electronic ink integrated with Philips' active matrix backplanes and drivers. These initial modules can display monochrome or grayscale images, including text and illustrations, and deliver a resolution of 80 pixels per inch (ppi). The displays' paper-white and deep-black image capabilities provide significantly improved readability over the traditional display technology found in today's handheld devices.

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Where are the idiots...

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 12:34:55 PM #
Where are the idiots who are going to say it's dead because their current technology isn't color??

RE: Where are the idiots...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 1:26:53 PM #
Dude...chill. If you want to start an argument, go over to the 700 Club's website. If you want to post something constructive, then do it.

It's dead because their current technology isn't color.
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 1:27:26 PM #

RE: Where are the idiots...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 2:57:28 PM #
Ok, this idiot. IT ISNT COLOR.

RE: Where are the idiots...
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 6:31:13 PM #
I agree. This sort of screen would satisfy (at a rough guess) 95% of users. It promises to bring legibility to a new level and without the technical difficulties and disadvantages of colour screens.

Not Color

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 1:37:31 PM #
I think it looks good. I am a WorkPad c3 user and I am happy with it. However, I would love the black text on a white background look that a color screen gives. Even if the screen were nothing other black and white, I still think black text on a white screen looks better than the current green and black Palm screen. Maybe for Palm users, this could become a lower cost alternative to color screens.

RE: Not Color
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 4:33:17 PM #
You know, black text on a white background was the main reason I switched to a Palm m505. I love the color as a bonus, but the readability of this device is what sold me on it. I'm looking forward to eInk for the same reason - low power, super-portable, and high-contrast. I can't wait to see this coupled with the kind of light-weight processors that are coming down the pike.

think again

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 3:58:14 PM #
i think that SIZE and "color" matters- but also flexibility - look att siemens SX45 - i looks as the best ever pda/mobile phone ever (ok i know itīs not palm) until you se itīs size. and then you understand that the best mobile/pda combo is(will be?) ericsson T39(bluetooth, gprs, both europe and us gsm) + palm 525(bluetooth built in?- if you also could get the electronic ink with bluetooth then you would have 3 really small parts instead of 1 that is too big - and you cold even upgrade the electronic ink paper screen when the colour is there - i think all screens should be b-tooth and the pda just a mathbox size b-tooth computer - and then everybody cold get the e-ink, oled or ? they need or can aford- all in 3 small pockets instead of 1 BIG- and independantly upgradeable -

They are working on color displays, too.

I.M. Anonymous @ 9/23/2001 9:42:25 PM #
E Ink is working on color displays as well. Check out the press release and color image here:



bad name, far off technology

mj6798 @ 9/24/2001 3:55:49 AM #
The term "electronic ink" has for many years been used to refer to the digital storage of pen stroke and path data. For example, the current Palm organizers support a simple form of electronic ink in their "Note Pad" application. For eInk to come in and try to use the name for their technology is very confusing.

Also note that the samples you see on the eInk site are not pixel-addressable--they are prefabricated templates. AFAIK, eInk has not figured out yet how to get a sufficiently dense grid of electrodes, necessary for a high resolution pixel addressale display onto their substrate. So, in different words, I wouldn't hold my breath for this one.

RE: bad name, far off technology
I.M. Anonymous @ 9/24/2001 8:02:17 AM #
I think the one page said 2004. Getting sufficient speed does seem like one of the major challenges.



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