This is a continuation of my conversation with E Ink. An Electrophoretic Display (EPD) company and headquartered in Boston, the company makes rolls of EPD film that are later shipped to partners.
Founded in 1997 based on research started at the MIT Media Lab, E Ink Corp. is a leading supplier of electronic paper display (EPD) technologies. Products made with E Ink's revolutionary electronic ink possess a paper-like high contrast appearance, ultra-low power consumption and a thin, light form.
Recently, the company achieved a number of design wins in Japan. Throwing light on these developments, Sriram Peruvemba, Vice President of Marketing, E Ink Corp., said that the company's customers in Japan include Sony (for eBooks), Casio (for mobile phone the GzOne, most rugged version), Citizen (for signage products), Seiko (for wrist watches), Hitachi (for mobile phone, case art display), Teraoka (for Ink In Motion signs), Toppan (for train station arrival/departure information signs).
Based on E Ink's design wins in Japan, is there are a possibility that there will be more mobile phones using film-based displays?
Peruvemba said: "We see sub-segments of the mobile phone market that is disatisfied with the amount of use per battery charge with current LCD technology. We see opportunities for customers to make a unique fashion statement with their products by using our displays. Our displays are slightly thicker than a sheet of paper, so, it is easy to incorporate them as the outside skin of a mobile phone."
The display can be cut to any shape. The company encourage designers to "think outside the rectangle", the rectangle representing traditional display technologies, and there is no glass to break making E Ink's displays the most rugged.
Smart design trends
Given E Ink's vision of having a presence on every smart surface, it would be interesting to find out the company's views on the design trends among displays, and in semiconductors.
For starters, customers used to 30 hours of continuous operation on their eBooks will no longer accept two hours on their laptop battery or just a few hours on their cell phone battery, as the demand for lower power consuming displays will increase.
Peruvemba added: "Designers that hitherto designed their product to accommodate a rectangular display will seek displays that will work around their design, displays that offer unique shapes and sizes such as what is available with technologies like E Ink's EPD. Adoption of reflective display technologies into mobile phones, GPS, PDA's and laptop computers, will allow us to read the display outdoors without having to squint, shield the screen or seek shade."
This spring E Ink had announced new product advancements, like its next generation segmented display cells (SDC) and a new controller for active matrix displays that allows for menu options and pen-input. E Ink is offering a prototyping kit for each product line.
Elaborating on these developments, Peruvemba said that the segmented displays were relaunched with three major changes. They are now more flexible/bendable, they can tolerate a wider temperature range (-10 to +60 deg Centigrade)and are thinner (less than 400 micro meters).
"These features allowed E Ink to win designs with smart card makers, penetrate industrial market segments for battery indicators, and go where no display has gone before," he concluded.