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Displays Technology

Bridgestone Shows Off Ultra-Thin, Full-Color e-Paper 177

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the magazines-of-the-future dept.
Bridgestone, the company which debuted the "world's thinnest" sheet of two-color e-paper last year, has turned around and delivered a new version which is capable of displaying over four thousand colors. "In case that wasn't enough, the company is also touting what it calls the "world's largest full color e-paper that is A3 size, which is equivalent to a 21.4-inch screen." As you'd expect, the latter is expected to be used solely for advertising and could hit the market as early as next year, while the former technology is set to be commercially available in 2009."
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Bridgestone Shows Off Ultra-Thin, Full-Color e-Paper

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  • It could lead to Bridgestone being forced to have ANOTHER Recall due to blowouts! http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&safe=off&q=Bridgestone+recall&btnG=Search [google.com]

    Now is everyone ready for 'digital paper' "DRM" ???
    • by hack slash (1064002) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:10PM (#21078821)
      "Now is everyone ready for 'digital paper' "DRM" ???"

      "This message will self erase in 5 seconds"
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jollyreaper (513215)

        "Now is everyone ready for 'digital paper' "DRM" ???"

        "This message will self erase in 5 seconds"
        Power it with Sony batteries and it can explode like in Inspector Gadget. Poor Chief Quimby!
      • "This message will self erase in 5 seconds"
        At least we can rest assured that the Cone of Silence doesn't work.
      • by Kamineko (851857)
        Have you ever seen Back to the Future 3?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You can't DRM digital paper because you can just photocopy it, right?
      • by tepples (727027)

        You can't DRM digital paper because you can just photocopy it, right?
        To make high-quality analog reconversion more difficult, the manufacturer can have the e-paper display turn off while exposed to light that's as bright as a flatbed scanner's lamp.
        • I thought one of the main selling points of e-paper was that you could read it just as well in bright sunlight as in normal interior lighting. Texas summer sun is probably brighter than a scanner's lamp.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Telvin_3d (855514)
          As I understand it, part of why everyone is so excited about e-paper is that the image remains on the page when the power is no longer being applied. So, the fail-proof way around ANY e-paper DRM is just take out the batteries before you photocopy/scan it.
          • by blhack (921171) *
            Not if they make the paper sensitive to high intensity light. Put a disclaimer on it that says "Don't put this into a photocopier, or expose it to high heat/light....

            you put it in the xerox and it turns completely black and never works again because "the circuitry is so delicate".

            IT worked for the box office industry.
            • by mark-t (151149)
              As somebody else has pointed out already, natural sunlight is _FAR_ brighter than any scanner lamp.
              • by tepples (727027)

                natural sunlight is _FAR_ brighter than any scanner lamp.
                Natural sunlight doesn't start at the top/bottom of the page and slowly crawl to the other side.
                • by mark-t (151149)
                  That's true... but it's not at all inconceivable to have a scanner that illuminates the entire page at once also.
                  • but it's not at all inconceivable to have a scanner that illuminates the entire page at once also.
                    I know; it's called a "camera with flash". Those tend to have lower resolution than flatbed scanners, making it more difficult to correct moiré patterns.
        • by TrnsltLife (779961) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#21079251)
          I thought you were going to say: Poke out people's eyes and make them install DRMed optic sensors. The Microsoft version would be ViziOrbs - Human Light Interface. And the Apple ones would be iBalls.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by GroeFaZ (850443)
          That would require some form of brightness sensor that a)would drive up costs and b) could be easily defeated by just taping over the seonsor area. Covering the whole of the reading area with tiny sensors seems a little like overkill (not that this would ever have stopped DRM proponents, but still).
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by COMICAGOGO (1055066)
          You could use just about any kind of halfway decent digital camera to take long exposures (when I say long I mean 1/5 of a second or so.) You get the same image as then scanner and there would be no way for the E-paper to tell what was soaking up all the photons that were reflected off of it.
        • A better solution would be to space the dots in order to generate a Moire pattern when the image is scanned or photographed.
          • by MightyYar (622222)
            Of course, you would only get the moire pattern if the resolution of the scanner/copier was worse than the display...
            • Well, actually, if the resolution of the scanner/copier was not significantly greater than that of the display. But it's a good point, all the same.
      • I can burn and rip itunes music but quality is arguably lost in many cases. Likewise, if I want a perfect digital conversion I will have to hack away but if I'm content with a low quality bittorrent version then I can just photocopy it Im not sure if I'm being sarcastic or not :P
        • by Mozk (844858)
          Heh, I get your point there, but most of the music I've gotten through torrents is at least 192 kbps CBR, usually 256-320 (CBR/VBR). Some FLAC too.
          I do have experience with audio, and for me, 192 kbps sounds perfectly acceptable for normal listening. So you're either using a shitty tracker or looking for some obscure album, or you're a very strict audiophile. :P
          • by MightyYar (622222)
            192? Luxury! I'm quite happy listening to Pandora all day, and that's only 128, I think.
          • Nah actually I don't use bittorrent (hands in geekcard).. I am an audiophile when i'm in control but i cant tell when i get stuff my friends.. i was trying to make a point but yeah the bittorrent comparison was dumb in retrospect.. maybe if we're talking mp3s from kazaa circa 02 or something (hopefully that makes more sense.. just pulling it out of my ass as well lol)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by BlueParrot (965239)

        You can't DRM digital paper because you can just photocopy it, right?

        You can do better than that. Use a lens to focus the thing into a high quality digital camera and you can capture a whole video stream ( this works for TFTs as well ). Only issue is to synchronise the camera to the paper's refresh rate, and this is fairly easy to do if you have good equipment.

        Thing with DRM is that it can't work in a free society. The only way it could work would be if the government banned all recording equipment other th

        • by isaac (2852)

          The only way it could work would be if the government banned all recording equipment other than that controlled by the media industry (and the DMCA is certainly playing with the idea by banning you from distributing circumvention methods, given that a non-DRM-crippled digital camera is a perfectly decent circumvention method).

          Read up on the AHRA [wikipedia.org]. It didn't help the recording industry in the end...

          -Isaac

        • by Fred_A (10934)

          Thing with DRM is that it can't work in a free society.
          We have noted your concern and wish to inform you that we are currently diligently addressing it.

          Thank you for your feedback.

          The Mgt.
      • by Stonent1 (594886)
        I remember some copy protection in the early 90's for a game. You had to look up a number in a table in the manual. But the text was black on very dark brown. I'm assuming that it wasn't able to be copied by a copy machine because there wasn't enough contrast between the two colors.
    • Blowouts are avoiding by keeping the product in vapor form prior to installation...
  • by Serhei (1150661)
    As in, the fact that they aren't revealing them means that they aren't anything to write home about. Refresh rates are going to keep this technology confined to ebook readers and advertising posters. I want stuff like this [blogspot.com].
    • by pavon (30274) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:42PM (#21079147)
      I would love to have an A3-sized e-reader for schematics. Having the ability to search my documents (where is R217?) without having to deal with the cumbersome laptops with small displays, would be great. I imagine a scroll with the batteries and processor in the center, or a folding book. Either way you would have the option of using it in A3 or A4 size depending on what you need to do. It wouldn't need a huge amount of memory, especially if it had WiFi. It wouldn't need a high a refresh rate or many colors - I could get by with monochrome, 16 colors would be nice, 256 would be exorbitant. Just high resolution PDF view and file browser and I'd be happy. Bonus points for excel documents.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jimmux (1096839)

        I like where you're going with this. A dual A3/A4 device would be incredibly useful in workplace, where most stuff is printed in A4 but you often need to go to A3 for diagrams (especially Gantt charts).

        The beauty of ISO standard paper sizes [cam.ac.uk] is that each in the series is exactly half the size of the next largest - i.e. the long edge of A4 is the same length as the short edge of A3. Therefore, if you want an A4 display you unroll your scroll half way. If you want an A3 display then you unroll it all the w

      • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday October 22, 2007 @10:09PM (#21080685)
        Yeah, but just watch out for the older engineer with his red pencil.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlueParrot (965239)

      As in, the fact that they aren't revealing them means that they aren't anything to write home about. Refresh rates are going to keep this technology confined to ebook readers and advertising posters.

      I wouldn't bee too sure. While it will probably be a while before you get HD-video on these things at an affordable price ( 5 years ? ) you really don't need that much in order to browse the web. 5 frames a second would be more than enough to navigate static content, and 24 would be enough for simple animated st

    • I very much enjoyed reading your blog entry about your info-pad idea [blogspot.com]. Here's my own idea, worth what you just paid for it: How about a low-tech device that operates as snazzy e-book reader on-the-cheap? E-book readers like Sony's crud are too expensive (though Sony's problem is stupid marketing - not their e-book price). They take cheap e-ink that could be used to paint huge signs, and they cover them with low-yield expensive thin-film transistors. It's a bastardized hybrid, like mating a man and an ape
    • I beg to differ. Consider all the tree paper being used in photocopiers each year. What if a new system were put in place where a photocopier could output images to re-usable e-pages? So instead of throwing out the old memos, you recycle them in the machine. This could save huge amounts of money. Also consider fax machines. Though outdated by email, they are still used widely but are inundated by spam faxes. But if fax sheets were recyclable, this would reduce the amount of ink and paper thrown out. Bridge
    • It seems to me that refresh rates are not too important when it comes to the major advantages of electronic paper, namely that (1) it is eventually going to be a great replacement for many uses of normal paper, and (2) it only consumes energy when the image is refreshed, so a single battery charge can be used to view static text and images for a long time.

  • by pavon (30274) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:12PM (#21078833)
    Wow, the e-paper he is holding in that picture has a full 4,096 shades of brown. Perfect for Doom!

    Seriously, Here is an article with a better picture [i4u.com]. Still not much contrast, but getting better.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by matlhDam (149229)

      Wow, the e-paper he is holding in that picture has a full 4,096 shades of brown. Perfect for Doom!

      "Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Steve?"
      "Order the entire production run for our next Zune model! And bring me more chairs!"
    • by ColGraff (454761)
      I think you mean Quake. :)
    • Four thousand shades of brown would make it perfect for an Ubuntu theme!

      Ubuntu - the beige minivan of Linux - not quite good enough for anything...
  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:14PM (#21078871) Journal
    ...can you bend the critter (or at least build it as a wrap-around type screen), without optical distortion (or at least some sort of compensation against it by a GPU)? It would add one hell of a dimension to gaming, simulators, immersion-type entertainment, things like that.

    I realize it's probably possible to do when building it, but it takes a pretty (relatively) hefty chunk of time to do anisotropic conversions of flat images (e.g. when creating image-based lighting maps for CG artwork raytracing and such), but if that could be fixed, a semi-spherical screen with the focal point being a person's head would be hella nice.

    (of course, they'd still have to add about 15.9-something million colors in capability and perhaps a tighter resolution to it as well, but still... looks like it could go to some interesting places if they actually get it working).

    /P

  • Wow - Amiga (Score:3, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:19PM (#21078925)

    which is capable of displaying over four thousand colors.

    Wow, now we're up to Amiga range from 22 years ago.

    • by mikael (484)
      Well, in one year they have advanced from 8 color (1 bit RGB) to 4096 color (4 bits RGB). That's pretty good considering they have to create a high resolution flexible display A3 size. By next year, they probably will have 8-bit RGB, and in the future maybe even 16-bit channels, which would be good enough for photography. Just make sure the top of the display is glossy and it will look like a magazine.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        If the contrast is really as bad as it appears in the picture, bit depth is the least of their concerns.
    • Granted, Amigas *were* thin.. but I don't remember seeing an Amiga that was that thin.. And while we're at it let's compare a display to an entire computer...Apples, meet oranges.
  • It's over four THOOOO0OOOOOOUSAND!!!
  • by Trogre (513942) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:28PM (#21079031) Homepage
    Not meaning to tread on their parade, but won't these people ever get tyred of re-inventing the wheel?

    *rimshot*

  • 4k colors -- 12-bit color -- is "Full-color"? Really?
    • by barwasp (1116567)
      yes
    • by springbox (853816)

      4k colors -- 12-bit color -- is "Full-color"? Really?

      With dithering it's OVER NINE THOUSAND!!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tepples (727027)

      4k colors -- 12-bit color -- is "Full-color"? Really?
      Print is 4-bit (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black either on or off). The difference is halftoning. How much full color can you get out of a 12-bit display using appropriate dithering?
  • I'm Lovin It! (TM) (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CODiNE (27417) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:45PM (#21079177) Homepage
    Can't wait til these babies start rolling out as it'll seriously push the display market with some nice competition to increase pixel density and so on. Once people figure out how to hack these things it's going to seriously affect LCD prices. Wheee. Sadly that'll lead to DRM usage on them so people don't hijack their ads. Eh.
  • Flexible? Color? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by owlstead (636356) on Monday October 22, 2007 @06:47PM (#21079193)
    What I need is a rather thin (.5 mm is enough), black and white e-paper screen with high res and low power use, in an A4/letter format. This would save me hundreds of copies of paper. I'm willing to pay up to a grand for that. Why are these idiots always focusing on full color, bendable screens? I would consider them nice extras, nothing more.
    • by GroeFaZ (850443)
      Assuming you unstated unit of currency is a US dollar or something worth more per unit (not hard these days *cough*) AND "hundreds of copies" is no more than 1000, then I have to diagnose a merely tenuous grasp on Economics on your part. That, or you just love gadgets, which makes this your place then. Carry on.

      Either way, to not embarass yourself, you should stop insulting people that satisfy a market subset that has more elements than {You}
      • by owlstead (636356)
        It would save me hundreds of copies of paper in my bag, my bad. It would save thousands of copies of paper each year. I try to do things on my laptop, but this is in general just not feasible. It would also make it much easier to search and annotate things, provided that this is supported of course. And I know any of my colleagues would feel the same. In my opinion, this is not a minor niche of the market. It's a *huge* market. Instead these guys keep on focusing on (slightly) bendable screens and colors.

        I'
    • That'd be the OLPC then (or XO as it's called these days).

      Sort of. The OLPC screen isn't A4 size, but the idea is the same - low power, high res, high contrast screen to replace textbooks (what they do is switch off the backlight and use each RGB pixel as three black&white pixels viewable using natural light.

  • it's colour! ;)
  • by Hao Wu (652581)
    4,096 colors is 1024 * 4.

    The "1024" is predictable, but I wonder why 4-times that figure?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by AnotherSteve (447030)
      I dunno. I haven't read the article or even just looked at the pictures. But I'm thinking that the answer to your question is "Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Feanturi (99866)
      It's not 1024*4. Although that is mathematically correct, it's not the correct way to interpret colour depth on a computer. 4096 in this instance is 16*16*16. There are 4096 colours available to the display because it is using a range of 16 values (4 bits) for each of the three channels, Red, Green, and Blue. 0 means none of that particular colour and 15 means the most intense shade of that colour. The three base RGB colours get combined with their various values of 0 to 15 to give new colours like shades o
    • by rossifer (581396)
      I suspect it's 4096 = 8 * 8 * 8 * 8. As in three bits of color depth for each of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. At least, I hope the colorspace is CMYK.
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but don't we already have a means of displaying digital documents? Can someone explain to me the point of distributing an "e-subscription" on "e-paper" when most people are spending more and more of their time on computers?

    Novel, yes. Useful, I don't know...but I can buy more paper than I'll need in an entire year for $30 at Staples.

    • Tell me, what would you rather look at: an LCD display, or something that is (for reading purposes) just like a sheet of paper? These are easier on your eyes, they're readable in sunlight, and consume less power (only on for changing pages)
      • by jours (663228)
        Yeah, but real paper is easier yet on my eyes, also readable in sunlight and uses no power at all once it's printed.

        Let's say an "e-paper tablet" comes on the market for...what...$500? I can buy 80,000 sheets of paper for the same price. I could use 50 sheets a day, every day, for FOUR YEARS and still come out ahead.
        • Enjoy toting those 80,000 sheets of paper around with you.
          • by jours (663228)
            You must take really long bathroom breaks if you need that much reading material with you...
            • No, but if I could carry all of my textbooks and journals around with me in something the size of a legal pad it would be wonderful.
    • by belg4mit (152620)
      power consumption
    • Ever try to use an LCD screen in bright sunlight? Ever get annoyed at your PDA running out of batteries?
  • by victorvodka (597971) on Monday October 22, 2007 @08:16PM (#21079867) Homepage
    Make clothing from this material and see what it does to fashion! I'm a tech guy and shouldn't be allowing my brain to go here, but imagine: as with your dumb-ass you-paid-$2.99-for-what? ringtones, you'll be able to download patterns for your shirts, slacks and skirts! Hooked up to your cameraphone, hell, you could even be invisible!
  • The only readers out currently are way over priced. $300 is a bit too much for the feature set that the sony reader provides. This new tech is great but if the price is the same, or worse, the market is just going to take forever to develop and these things are just not gonna sell. I have craved epaper for over a decade now and I still can't quite justify spending $300. I have never seen anyone with one and i live in the valley.

    I hope at some point drops into the reasonable range and I can enjoy the future
  • Because the last time I checked, color e-paper had a resolution of about 70dpi, and an A4-paper sized ebook reader using color epaper was about 2500 bucks. Since the article does not address either of these details, I have no reason to assume that their state of affairs is any different than what I've already known about. Both price and resolution need to be favorably improved by about a factor of 5 before I expect that they will be seriously considered as popular consumer-level devices.
  • Well I can only hope this catches on.. the pavement. I really need to know what kind of traction this technology will provide. I don't know how I feel about 4,000 colors spinning around the corner as I speed down the pike, but, I'll accept it as long as it keeps me on the road.

    Seriously. Bridgestone? I thought they made tires.

    Your whitewalls will advertise for Coca-Cola.
  • That's nice, but is it flexible? I'll be happy when I can start rolling a 4" x 5" screen out of a PDA/Cellphone a-la the movie Red Planet. Make it a touch screen too, then I'll really be psyched.

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