E Ink has announced what would seem to be a big breakthrough in its drive to bring full color to electronic paper, and the first target application for what’s called Advanced Color ePaper (or ACeP) is digital signage.
The company is touting how, for the first time ever, an electrophoretic display (EPD) can produce full color at every pixel without the use of a color filter array (CFA).
I’m going to jump right in here and say about the only thing I understand of that paragraph is the word color, and it’s not going to get any better for me (or probably most of you) as you read on. It’s pretty technical.
ACeP achieves a full color gamut, says a press release, including all eight primary colors, using only colored pigments. The display utilizes a single layer of electrophoretic fluid, which is controlled using voltages compatible with commercial TFT backplanes. The fluid can be incorporated into either microcapsule or Microcup® structures. The richness of the colors is achieved by having all the colored pigments in every picture element (pixel) rather than the side-by-side pixel colors achieved with a CFA. This eliminates the light attenuation, which can be quite significant.
Well, duh …
OK, this I’ve got: Just like regular E Ink ePaper (think Kindles), ACeP maintains the ultra-low-power and paper-like readability under all lighting conditions. So that means the tech can now do vibrant colors, instead of black and white and gray, on displays as varied as bus schedules and meeting room signs.
“At its heart, E Ink is a materials and technology company,” says Frank Ko, Chairman of E Ink Holdings. “It’s this core that provides the energy and the foundation for the stream of products being developed at E Ink. We expect ACeP to become the basis upon which another generation of EPD display products can be developed.”
In developing ACeP, continues a press release, “E Ink researchers solved the very complex problem of how to get reflective color at every pixel in a commercially viable structure. Other approaches have utilized stacked backplane structures that are complex, difficult to manufacture and costly. The E Ink approach utilizes only a single backplane. Many materials and waveform inventions were required to independently control the position of the multiple color pigments.”
“The technical team was convinced this was achievable,” says Michael McCreary, CTO for E Ink Corporation. “E Ink’s global R&D team has a deep understanding and experience with electrophoretic displays. During the years of hard work applying this experience to full color, the breakthroughs required to achieve this milestone were numerous and frequent. We are very proud of the team’s accomplishment and dedication to this task.”
Several 20-inch display prototypes with a resolution of 1600 by 2500, at 150 ppi, have been built and ACeP units are on display this week at the display nerd show SID Display Week, in San Francisco.
My safe guess is that these ACeP displays will be crazy-expensive, at least for now. It’s important to note that they are static displays, and don’t support video or motion graphics. Again, think Kindle.