Electronic-ink technology improves display capabilities

APRIL 10--E Ink Corp. (Cambridge, MA; www.eink.com) has demonstrated an active-matrix electronic-ink display that produces high-resolution images and text.

Apr 10th, 2001

APRIL 10--E Ink Corp. (Cambridge, MA; www.eink.com) has demonstrated an active-matrix electronic-ink display that produces high-resolution images and text. The 12.1-in.-diagonal display prototype uses deep black ink that is compatible with the driver electronics and provides the resolution of a typical laptop computer.

IBM Research provided some of the electronics used in its laptop displays to E Ink for the research prototype. Starting with the active matrix from IBM, E Ink engineers developed a new deep-black version of electronic ink that changes ten times faster with higher contrast than the previous blue version. They also modified the circuitry to complete a working device.

Jim Iuliano, E Ink president and chief executive officer, says, "By demonstrating high-resolution electronic ink for the first time, we have proven that E Ink is ready to work with the leading display companies to develop the next generation in electronic device displays." E Ink technology provides several readability, portability, and ergonomic benefits over conventional and emerging display technologies such as liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), cathode-ray tubes, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and organic LEDs.

For improved readability, electronic ink produces three to six times more brightness than reflective LCDs because it contains the same coloring agents as ink on paper. However, it exceeds newspapers in contrast ratio and can be read at any angle in both dim light and bright sunlight. In addition, it presents a clear image that can be seen at any angle without a change in contrast. Moreover, special ink properties smooth the text characters better than traditional displays.

For improved portability, electronic ink permits a fixed image to remain on the screen even after power is shut off, promoting longer battery life. The bright paper-white background of electronic ink eliminates the need for a backlight in many applications. When used for normal reading, the E Ink display consumes less than 1/1000 the power needed for a standard notebook computer screen.

Ergonomically, electronic-ink displays are 30% thinner and lighter in weight than conventional LCDs. They also should cause less eyestrain than most displays that typically emit or transmit light because of their ink-on-paper qualities.

Michael McCreary, E Ink vice president of research and development, says, "Over the past year, we have significantly improved the quality of electronic ink, reduced its power requirements, and increased its speed. These changes have made electronic ink displays compatible with a variety of electronic devices ranging from PC tablets to cellular phones to PDAs."

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