Color e-paper on near horizon

September 3, 2009 by Dave Haynes


We just got running water last week up here in this socialist paradise, so we are probably years away from getting Kindle e-books. Doggedly, though, I remain interested in the use of electronic ink in those things, and in the long term possibilities for that technology for this industry.

The realistic application for what the things can do right now are limited, in that retailers might like to get digital monochromatic shelf tags that can be updated remotely. But if there was color e-paper …

From TG Daily this morning:

AU Optronics unit SiPix is drawing ahead in the race to get color e-paper to the market, with the announcement that it plans to launch a small number of displays by the end of next year.

They are expected to be used in electronic readers, magazines and newspapers, and are based on new developments by AU Optronics in thin-film-transistor panels.

“Making colored electronic paper displays is our top priority,” SiPix company president Andrew Tseng told the Taipei Times. “[Color] would encourage advertisers to place ads on publications, which then would be able to provide more content for free.”

Rival manufacturers such as Prime View International – which supplies Amazon and Sony – isn’t expected to have products available for another three years. Prime View uses technology from E Ink, which it plans to acquire by the end of the year.

AU Optronics also said yesterday that it expects the global market for e-paper products to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 40 percent over the next nine years, from today’s $1.143 billion to $41.27 billion in 2018. Displaysearch is a bit less optimistic, reckoning the market at $9.6 billion in 2018. 

There is now something called ILED, the inorganic version of OLED displays, that is ultra thin and could be a rival to e-paper as well.

The costs for all these news kinds of displays will be high for some time, and the manufacturing processes for e-paer will probably skew to much smaller sizes, but it’s safe to expect the feature set we’ll be looking at for display network projects could look veryt different in 3-4 years. 

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