E Paper History

1974-gyricon-material

There have been various reports about the history of E paper that it was developed in the late 60s and early 70s by Xerox PARC, who were developing and attempting to get Xerox management to appreciate the Alto personal computer; they never did.

It was the world’s first office and word-processing computer, but this remarkable machine had one serious drawback: the cathode ray tube display it used was not the best; the problem was that the contrast was not bright enough, and the contrast was not great.    

A major improvement to assist this problem was the introduction of Gyricon; this was used with a rotating-ball and was based on a physical phenomenon called “electro capillarity.” The electro capillarity display worked by moving colored liquids against a white background as you can appreciate that this was back in the 70 and 60 and it was really a very basic spin of to what we seen on the screen today.

As time pasted the concept of E Paper slowly declined and the birth of the computer was born, and that area is history, it’s not really since the birth of the e reader that we see the development of E paper in its present form to which we own this to the potential growth of the electronic reader.

Since this time there was always the back ground research and development of e paper form all the usual companies, the various report where been published indicating that this development  was and still is a thing of the future.

Two articles were published, “E Is for E-Paper: An Electronic Paper Primer for the Graphic Communications Industry” and “E-Paper Technologies and Opportunities in Publishing, Communications and the Graphic Arts”  this examined the two major products releases by (the iRex iLiad and the Sony Reader) it also looked at the other potential devices waiting in the wings.

In 2006/2007 Sony started to develop a so called Sony Style e-store to where the e reader could down load various books to read etc. We have to be very carful here for most of the reports and articles are stating that the e books have elect iconic paper , could that be an misleading phrase, the device that they were reading form was to replace books ,it was common sense to think that the e books have e paper, the question of what you would class as e paper really has to spring to mind, we have seen this development before to the concept of the  paperless office, were terminology has been placed in to a section and in time the design process has lost it’s true meaning.

If we look at the years of 2008 to present and break it down to its Utilization then Electronic paper is the way out for people who read a lot off their screen. But there are also big expectations on the field of replacing printed newspaper, school books and manuals.

Advantages of the eBooks reader are, besides a handy, light size, the largestorage capacity and the fast and easy adaptation of the content. Additional advantage is that some models have the option to make notes that can be transformed into printed text.

A promising development of electronic paper is the flexible e-paper. Philips spin-off Polymer Vision presented in 2007 a first commercial utilization of flexible electronic paper in the form of the Readius, a smartphone with foldable screen. This makes it possible to equip a small device with a relatively large screen.

This has mostly been carried forward and developed commercial with the introduction of the skiff, which is a flexible sheet that can be used to read newspapers and more sheet design in reading , rather than the a traditional book design.

Although the skiff was never a commercial success, this was not to the problem of the material design of the product but a more commercial failure in how to market the product as a multi functional reading tool and acquiring the appropriate networking solutions to capture a new type of reader, some of the reports state that it was ahead of its time, I must disagree with this, it is only a question of time when a design concept will look and feel and the same size of a piece of paper, to what we are all used to and not a small computer device replacing the book.

Vizplex is another development with regards to eInk displays which are equipped with this technology and have a greater contrast and the pages can be switched faster. Vizplex is also more suitable for larger screens and therefore more suitable for a A4 size piece of paper.

One of the problems trying to trace back this history is that the E paper really has come from how this product has developed within the existing technology, it’s hard to state that the e paper was developed in the 60s and 70s, where it was the development of the computer screen that started it, can you class the e paper as a computer screen and once again the major leaps and bounds of this products has come from the mobile phone industry with a foldable screen.

 I think that in the early days it should have been called an e display( which it was) which has changed and developed into a piece of e paper.

So to try to track down a precise date has become difficult and I think its still an area to say that this is an ongoing development so has the e display finally turned into a piece of paper, I do believe that it will, but it will certainly taken more time and alot more research before we can clearly and confidently state this.

sony electronic paper

 

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About martin smith

A degree in Engineering Management ,who is just trying to make life a bit easier, for anyone who wishes to read these articles. View all posts by martin smith

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