Startup Shows E-paper That’s Color And Video-Capable

May 29, 2017 by Dave Haynes

Display nerds at last week’s annual Society for Information Display’s annual DisplayWeek, this year in LA, saw among other things e-paper technology that was both color AND video capable.

Tech developed by Silicon Valley start-up CLEARink, based on R&D that came out of the University of British Columbia, was among the Best In Show winners at the event.

The company’s website touts a variety of potential uses, including sunlight-readable indoor and outdoor displays.

CLEARink Displays, says a press release ahead of the SID trade show, offer all the advantages of traditional electronic paper along with color and video, allowing these applications to blossom.

In consumer applications, cost is a major factor in adoption of new display technologies. Unlike other novel technologies that require proprietary infrastructure and expensive processes, CLEARink’s products will be built on existing, fully depreciated LCD production lines offering the market a revolutionary ePaper product at a lower cost. CLEARink has partnered with best in class LCD manufacturers and has commenced trial production in an LCD fab.

“This public demo of our technology is the culmination of many years of R&D by our team,” says Frank Christiaens, CEO of CLEARink Displays. “We believe that our product is what the industry has been waiting for – color, video, low power, sunlight readable, thin, light reflective displays that are easy on the eyes.”

CLEARink will pursue a strategy of selling display modules made by its ecosystem partners and will also license its technology for display companies to make their own products. Initially targeted applications in the mobile devices space include smart watches and bands, eSchoolbooks, electronic shelf labels and others where CLEARink has commenced reference design activity with a select set of leaders in the space, and has already secured $3M in licensing revenue from customers.

The big pitch here is that while e-paper displays are great for saving costs on energy consumption, they’re great for static visuals but not designed to support the rapidly changing frames of a video file. If you have a Kindle or other e-reader, you’ve seen how changing pages that have visuals is less than smooth.

I dug around but could not find any images from the SIF show, or on the website, showing this tech in action. It must be more than vaporware if it’s winning awards at something like SID. Here is a detailed technical look at how it works (some of which I vaguely understand).

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