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Displays Technology

Nanotech Based Display 217

yodha writes "Ntera showed their NanoChromics Display (NCD) recently. The display uses a nanotechnology process to create a more paper-like image than traditional LCD screen. It delivers significant power savings (they've shoehorned one into an iPod to give people a sense of what it looks like). The image can even remain on the screen for weeks without any power and doesn't need a backlight."
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Nanotech Based Display

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  • pr0n (Score:4, Funny)

    by TLLOTS ( 827806 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:37AM (#11697053)
    So much for turning the screen off when you're looking at... home movies and your parents/friend/girlfriend walks in ;)
  • more vaporware? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 7Ghent ( 115876 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:38AM (#11697060) Homepage
    So many e-paper much vaporware.
    • First off, something I always thought would be cool is to have a digital picture frame. But the ones that I see a lot today just plain suck. Too thick and monitor-ish. If these looked like paper, it would be ez to make a digital pic frame out of it, and it would look good. Shoot, the things are cheap and sturdy, you could send grandma one in the mail, and not have to worry about losing the image.

      A cool device that I would like to see, if this is thin enough, is an ebook device that actually looks like
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If each page is a different work of literature... you've got an art/marketing phenomenon, I guess, but consider the usability. You probably can't fold back the spine like a real book (well, you could, but the lifetime of flexible electronics is still as weak as the spine on a paperback), and if you want each page to represent a single work, you're stuck scrolling anyway.

        If you request a USB hookup, that means all the work might as well reside on a small USB stick or "Gumstix" computer in the spine anyway,
    • Must be because it's such a sweet target. Non-light-emiting (strictly reflective) ultra-high-res color display would be a very, very revolutionary thing. Much more so than a move from CRT to LCD. This and fusion as power source... Ahh...
    • Re:more vaporware? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BarryNorton ( 778694 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:19AM (#11697543)
      So many e-paper much vaporware.
      The Sony Librie [] isn't vapourware - it's a real product... unfortunately one crippled by DRM and consequently, as far as I know, not due for a European or American release :(
    • Whats nice about this is that its apparently quite easy to retrofit an existing LCD manufacturing facility to produce these. IIRC the others did not have this advantage.

      If it is as easy as they claim, then the cost to get these things into mass production will be quite a bit smaller.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As far as I can tell, most "e-paper" has focused on two technologies -- the original 'white side/black side' rotating-sphere design, where the little balls or molecules flip one way or the other based on charge, and Philips' new oily-dye tech for color displays, where oil dyes ebb and flow across pixels for similar reasons.

      There's OLED and FED and LCD and all that, but 'e-paper' seems to imply a non-emissive display meant for reflective viewing, with no backlighting, and theoretically reduced power consump
      • iridigm (Score:3, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby ( 173196 )
        Iridigm looks like a compelling tech - especially in meeting the challenge of over-lighting stability. Qualcomm just bought the 85% of them that it didn't already own, for a total value of $200M. I wonder whether we'll see an iridigm phone in the next 12-18 months.
    • Re:more vaporware? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Mattsson ( 105422 )
      Well... To me, this doesn't seem like neither e-paper nor vaporware.

      A technology that incorporates discs of *glass*, like tft's, lcd's and this display, can't really be thought of as e-paper.

      And though one should be sceptic when reading about "working prototypes", they seem to have actually demonstrated that modified iPod to people.
      Most "e-paper" vaporwares has never reached such a working state...
    • Re:more vaporware? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Xorath ( 837772 )
      I'm not sure I'd call this vaporware, they're demonstrating the product with what looks like a good business model and implementation model that would make the technology feasible.

      I agree the color version would be that much better and add to that a 60fps refresh rate and then you've got yourself a nifty technology. But if they can truly bring into production what they're claiming then this has some pretty decent applications.
  • Ipod paper (Score:3, Funny)

    by A Swing Dancing Dork ( 324614 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:38AM (#11697063)
    the question is how much paprer would that ipod cost me?
  • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:38AM (#11697065)
    Wonder if it will work better with cell phone battery extender stickers attached to the back of the screen. (I kid)
    • Actually, you'd have to display the sticker on it for improvement.

      Soon to come: My monitor enhancement bitmap collection. Special one-pixel images which enhance your monitor image considerably if displayed at the right time on the right pixel.

      Of course the determination of the correct image for your monitor doesn't just depend on your monitor type, but also on the manufacturer (even the serial number is important because no two monitors are completely the same), the graphics card (there are subtle differe
  • pr0n (Score:4, Funny)

    by Coneasfast ( 690509 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:40AM (#11697068)
    so, i can have p0rn on my screen 24 hours a day?

    could be a great marketing method:
    tired of wasting electricity on porn?
    have trouble fiddling around with all those dirty magazines?

    then switch to NCD today!!!
  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:40AM (#11697072) Homepage Journal
    I'm guessing they've got a very long way to go before it'll be in a 24" widescreen display. The impressive thing is the contrast level... something like this could make e-books a practical option.
    • That's okay, I'll take it in a 5x7" ebook reader too.
    • If you look farther there is an ebook prototype with a respectibly sized screen.
    • Not quite the market (Score:5, Interesting)

      by WinterpegCanuck ( 731998 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:11AM (#11697198)
      Like they said in the article, it takes more power to render the image initially than LCD, so I don't think full motion movies/games/general screen is what they are aiming at. The strength in this product is the image lasting and having the readability of paper. I may just speak for myself, but I hate reading for great lengths from the screen, usually sending things to the laser to read from the page. The eBook they show in the last link is where the power of this guy is realized.

      I agree though, it looks like they are having difficulties with the larger screen, as the Ipod screen held the image fine, but the author stated he had to keep refreshing the ebook.

      • by netwiz ( 33291 )
        Well, it may take more power than an LCD, but just about every electronic component in a laptop does. LCDs don't use that much power by themselves, but the backlight they require does. I'd be willing to bet that the increased power drain is more than offset by the savings incured by the loss of the backlight.
      • no imagine your Clie or other PDA with a display like this. no more backlight, 100% readable in most lighting conditions. My clie NX80 and my Zaurus is only readable outside in bright sunlight without the backlight.

        They say they can make color versions by performing the same processes that LCD's do. (multi layers) so a full color high contrast paper like display for my PDA would be a dream come true.

        Imagine at least doubleing runtime because the backlight is no longer needed.
    • The contrast is impressive but can anyone tell me what the refresh rate is? I can't find it anywhere... makes me suspicous.
    • Not only, the thing would also work for making Dynabook-likes [] a practical option (if only we could turn back to saner ways on software design).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:41AM (#11697076)
    But the question remains, can I wipe my ass with it?
  • Very Nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omkar ( 618823 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:47AM (#11697097) Homepage Journal
    I like the increased contrast. But can anyone elaborate on "nanotachnology processes"? That's like saying any common appliance uses "electromagnetic processes".
    • Yes yes, but what does "nanostructured" mean?
    • It's just marketing fluff. Integrated circuits have been measured in nanometers for quite some time now, it's nothing special really. Just because the most basic unit of your product is nanometers in size, doesn't mean it's some special kind of technology.

      To me, nanotechnology means buildings things atom by atom. Not very many people have actually done that. I don't think it's fair to use the term nanotechnology for some chemical processes that produces these nanoscale structures. That's just to easy.
      • It may be marketing fluff, but you can blame the nanotech Johnny-come-latelies who decided to call everything in chemistry "nanotech" so they could steamroll Drexler's concepts and get the credit for themselves, while arguing that none of Drexler's ideas were valid.

        Richard Smalley comes to mind...

        Character assassination and nit-picking are so much easier than coming up with an original idea.

        Look at /.

        BTW, nanotech does not build things "atom by atom" - it is intended to build on a molecular scale, not a
  • by teknomage1 ( 854522 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:50AM (#11697113) Homepage
    So at what point does the thing malfunction and eat your house?
  • by FireballX301 ( 766274 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:52AM (#11697118) Journal
    ...would be having this on Tablet PCs.

    I didn't see any mention of this, but considering that they say 'it has the consistency of paper' and the extremely high resolution, if it were touch sensitive, it would replace paper/pencil in a way that PDAs couldn't. I couldn't doodle that well on a palm, but with nanotech resolution and a thin enough stylus, notes on a tablet PC would become a reality.

    Just my thoughts on this.
    • Maybe i missed it but i didn't read that 'it has the consistency of paper'. Notice the layers marked "glass" in the illustration. They did mention that it gave "the visual effect of ink on paper ".

      Take away the glass and i assume your stylus will create the same effect as writing on wet tissue, sure.

      • That's my basic problem with all of these "writable screen" technologies. None of them have the give & dragging resistance that paper & pen(cil) have. I'm even picky about what kind of pen I use on paper, because some pens just suck to write with. It seems to me that it will be a while before I can write on a screen and feel comfortable doing it.

        Besides, how would I lose my notes if they're all conveniently located on my PC? Where's the fun in that?
  • Power Consumption? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rincebrain ( 776480 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:53AM (#11697119) Homepage
    TFA claims that initially, it will draw more power than an LCD to paint the display, but the image will remain without additional repaints, saving energy.

    Now, I'd like to think I'm not an idiot...but how will that save energy on displays which, for instance, require frequent repaints? Let's say that I'm running my iPod with one of those screens, as they show in the article. The thing has to draw segments of the bar frequently, update the time remaining once per second, draw the entire "Now playing:" row to create the "scroll" effect for long titles, redraw the top if you have a clock running up there, et cetera, et cetera.

    Another example would be a touch-sensitive screen. In a drawing tablet, I'd imagine the repaint levels are not going to be particularly low, especially for full-tablet images...

    I suppose my question it actually less power-hungry than traditional LCDs for its practical uses?
    • it would probably use an intelligent redraw...the entire image wouldn't need to be refreshed, just parts of it. if there were some type of buffer where the data for one screen was held then they could just check to see if that pixel needed to be updated, if so they could update it...if not then they could save power.
      An LCD on the other hand has constant power requirements, even if the image is static.
    • by sahonen ( 680948 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:02AM (#11697163) Homepage Journal
      I have no idea how the device works, but I would think you just repaint only the pixels that change from frame to frame. For example, your seconds counter going from 8 to 9 would only really have to change the bottom half of the character. Plus you only need to update when there's a change, instead of constantly refreshing at 30hz or whatever. Even for a scrolling title bar, you're still not having to refresh the entire screen.

      What I'm wondering about is internal illumination. Does it rely completely on external illumination, or can you fit a backlight into it so you can read in the dark?
    • by jcr ( 53032 )
      If this display doesn't require a backlight, then it's a major win over today's LCD technology.


    • I'm guessing this is nowhere near ready for video rate stuff - in which case you're probably right - during normal operation it would probably use more power, but I'm guessing most of the power modern monitors consume is with the screen just sitting there idle while the user reads something on the page or is away eating lunch.

      However, for something like an e-book or a clock display the necessary refresh rate/percentage is relatively low - making this system optimal. Also, not having a backlight should sav
    • but how will that save energy on displays which, for instance, require frequent repaints?

      Apparently it draws "more" power to change the state of the molecules - due to having to move around charge. Otherwise, the base layer acts as a capacitor, with the stored charge maintaining the on/off state. So you end up spending power mostly on the pixels that change between lit and unlit. Even with full-screen repaints not all pixels switch (think scrolling a page: lots of pixels just stay white between successive
    • by rusty0101 ( 565565 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:20AM (#11697232) Homepage Journal
      On the assumption that most displays actually have a very small number of pixels that change with any frequency. As an example, look at an 8 element digital clock, every second the unit's second changes, every 10 seconds the tens seconds changes, every minute the minute changes, and so on. from any 30th of a second to another, the vast majority of the time, nothing has changed, so nothing needs to be refreshed, or changed.

      Likewise with a spectrum analyzer view on an mp3 player. It's rather rare for the area between the bars in the analyzer to change. It's also rare that the frame, labels under the bars, scale lines, etc. change.

      In an LCD system, all of those pixels need to be refreshed every refresh cycle. In this system once the pixel is set, no energy is used to keep that pixel set at that level.

      Looking at my screen right now, easily 95% or more of the screen is not changing from one second to the next. Yet the entire screen is using energy to refresh itself many times a second (50-70 Hz I believe for this screen)

      The place where such an interface would be expected to use significantly more energy would be in a Television type interface. Including video games on a PC which you may or may not consider related.

      I don't really get your example of a touch-sensitive screen. The areas that would draw energy to be repainted are those where the stylus or mouse pointer are located. Unless you are using some interface that draws lines all over the screen when you move the stylus from one pixel to another close to it, the only pixels that should be affected are those relevant to the brush or tool in question. For a Select this usually means a couple of lines of pixels vertically, and horizontally change. Applying effects, afrects a large portion of the screen, possibly even the entire screen, but it is usually a one shot event.

      Even the notorious blink tag in html documents should only cause energy to be expended with the frequency of the blink.

      Let's say that it takes 60 times as much energy for a pixel change on one of these screens than on an LCD (equivalent area example, if you get 9 'nano'-pixels in the same space as an lcd pixel, each nano-pixel using ~7 times as much energy as the lcd pixel, you get what 63 times as much energy used for that same area, close enoug to 60 for this example.) If over 90% of the screen is not changing from one refresh cycle to the next, then in 60 refresh cycles after the initial screen was set, you have approximate parity. That's one to two seconds. Obviously savings go up from there.

      But that's just some off the cuff calculating and thoughts. I am sure someone out there, perhaps someone who thinks that 1/20th of a dollar is not the same as 5% of a dollar will elucidate my errors.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:49AM (#11697325)
        But that's just some off the cuff calculating and thoughts. I am sure someone out there, perhaps someone who thinks that 1/20th of a dollar is not the same as 5% of a dollar will elucidate my errors.

        Actually, my friend, 1/20th of a dollar is a nickel.

        Respectfully yours,
        The Elucidator
      • Mpeg advantage (Score:3, Interesting)

        A happy coincidence that the MPEG encoding format selectively keeps the parts of the screen that change to compress moving images.

        An MPEG decoder card designed for this screen embedded in a purpose built portable dvd player could actually be easier to implement than for a raster screen.
    • You won't need a backlight, they suck battery power.

      Ok you might want some illumination, but for most cases you won't need it.
  • The iPod looks pretty awesome. The digital clock, however, is pretty uneven. Easy to read but part of the 8 is very faded.

    Can't wait until this sort of technology becomes more widespread. Less power consumption for small devices is always good.
    • Re:Nifty.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Cracell ( 788266 )
      reminds me, what ever happened to those paper thin screens? I want one of them things, if they ever actually come out, less I read some problem with temperature or something
  • once they are in color...and can better 60 fps...but the technology looks awesome right now... I'm glad that there are finally some more solid advancements in this digital paper idea.
    It's funny everyone always talked about creating digital paper, so people could read the news like they do on a regular newspaper, but by the time it comes around no one will read the paper anymore...I bet that I have a weeks worth of newspapers on my door step right now...getting the news that way is too damn slow...
    • Im waiting until they can cook eggs, then they will be worth my $$!!
    • If you subscribe to the newspaper but you let them pile up on your doorstep and never read them, then why do you bother subscribing? That is wasteful. Do you at least recycle them?
      • More than anything, I can't stand how newspapers stink. There is this weird smell about them that just repulses me. I'd rather read my news on the net any day than have to deal with piles of stinking newspapers. Gaah, I hate that smell, yuck.

        That screen looks pretty cool. I guess to save power you'd keep a couple screen buffers in memory. Do a bitwise XOR maybe using hardware to come up with a difference map, and only flip the bits which changed.

  • fragility? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zerkon ( 838861 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:55AM (#11697131)
    a few questions come to mind, obviously the technology is fairly new, but is the physical screen stronger than that of a typical LCD? relative to current LCDs how much would it cost? Will it be sluggish at cold temps like LCDs? I'd love to have one of these on my tablet PC currently pretending to be my car radio, with the cold weather the screen reacts quite slow sometimes.
  • by idlake ( 850372 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @01:56AM (#11697136)
    This isn't the only one. There are a bunch of those kinds of display technologies in the pipeline: basically, LCD displays, but with small scall structures that increase contrast, viewing angle, and persistence.

    It's a good short term solution because switching manufacturing over to those kinds of technologies should be fairly easy.

    The disadvantage is that those are still heavy glass sandwidches, with all the problems that brings with it. eInk, OLED, and other new display technologies give far more flexible and lightweight displays, and promise significant weight savings.
    • Except that these need not be glasses; anything which probably is structurally sound, transparent and electrically insulating will do, like lots of plastics. You're probably right about flexibility, though.

  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:00AM (#11697151)
    The image can even remain on the screen for weeks without any power and doesn't need a backlight."

    I figured out how to do that 30 years ago to my folks TV with my PONG console...
  • nano nano (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hhawk ( 26580 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:00AM (#11697153) Homepage Journal
    There are lots of things these days that operate at or involve nano-meter technology, but what specifically about this produce uses Nanotech?

    For me, Nanotech is enginering with Atoms; purposely building tiny machine on the Nanometer scale that do things like filter specific atoms to produce "pure" materials, act as a computer or build a rocket engine in a vat of liquid.

  • e-ink anyone? (Score:4, Informative)

    by esteric ( 859523 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:01AM (#11697155)
    This kind of technology seems promising for the future of ebooks...
    Let us all hope they do not screw up with this technology like Sony/Philips did with E Ink [] and their Librie [] ebook reader.
  • by sparkhead ( 589134 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:02AM (#11697159)
    So when can I pick up my "Young Lady's Illustrated Primer"?
  • by jackstack ( 618328 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:07AM (#11697184) Journal
    "Doesn't need a backlight because it's reflective"? - doesn't that mean it needs some light to reflect? I thought it must be emissive to be truly backlight free like oleds.
  • Less eye strain! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gilkyboy ( 746418 )
    Mmmm, less power= less light shining in my eyes. Sounds like I might not need to increase the strength of my contacts after all!
  • We've been hearing about electronic paper for years now hopefully this is actually the one that works. The technology does seem quite promising, and that they seem to be near shipping even more so but I have some concerns about the durability.

    In particular my understanding of how the material works is by depositing an electrochromatic material (i.e. a material which undergoes a chemical reaction changing its coloring or transparancy when an electric current is applied) on a very bumpy surface. This is ap
  • ... on the intent of this product. If the (VERY brief) article is correct, it sounds like it's not the kind of screen you'd use to (ahem, posts above =) ) watch pr0n. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like they're trying to do some kind of electronic book thing or something?

    If that's the case, give me a break. There's more important things to do with our time. Pardon me for jumping the gun... but if this is the best that Nanotechnology has to offer us, I'm dissapointed. Half of us here at Slashdo

    • There are two issues that cause me to print out a to-do list, purchase paper books, and so on. The first is the resolution of the display. Books are generally printed at a resolution between 600 and 1200 dpi. The best my laptop or pda can get is about 100 dpi.

      The second is usability life. Laptops range from 2 to 4 hours of usable time while reading a text document. Then you have to re-charge it. A book generally never needs to be recharge. It's feasable to take a book and sit on the beach for 8 hours, (I m
    • Nah, look at the sample product lines - large segement displays. Sure, "some day" it'll be great for pr0n and what-not. Today, their immediate market seems to be call center stat boards (might be updated every 30 seconds or so), airports/train stations (updated once per 15 mins), and quasi-static signage for advertising.

      These are all things that change relatively infrequently (compared to a 20 or 70 Hz clock), so power not spent on refresh is significant. Or so goes the sales pitch, at least...
  • Imagine an Etch-a-Sketch for the new millennium! Finally! (And with a touch-screen, it could be a Lite Brite, too!)
  • NCD technology uses electrodes made of nanostructured films of semiconducting metal oxides with a self assembled monolayer of electrochromic viologen molecules to overcome these issues.

    Oh yeah, that makes perfect sense!
  • This screams ePaper to me.. like those things they told us 8 years ago that we'd have by now to read the daily newspaper...

    I really do love the excellent contrast.. I think I have a lot of trouble reading things on computer screens for extended periods because of it, but that display looks absolutely delcious to my eyes.
  • E-Ink (Score:2, Interesting)

    by everklear ( 553968 )
    E-Ink anyone?

    E-Ink Website []

    It seems to me these guys are already doing this. Perhaps this is competition?

  • Odd review (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaRob ( 28971 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @02:59AM (#11697354) Homepage Journal
    What a strange review -- first they give us a nice photo comparing the new screen in an iPod to the standard LCD... but the standard iPod example is turned off. There's nothing on the screen we can compare with.

    Okay, maybe they're really keen on the new tech and are trying to skew things its way.

    But no, further down they discuss the eBook reader example. "This ebook looked great, and really shows off the power of the digital paper. Alas, I had to keep pressing the contrast button to refresh the image. Perhaps the technology is not as far along as the company suggested."

    Huh? Anything you can achieve by pressing a button is easily achievable through software, isn't it? This is just a minor flaw in the implementation of this particular prototype... and says nothing useful about the actual screen.

    Anyway, I'm sure more thoughtful reviews will be coming along soon -- this looks like pretty solid and exciting tech to me. It may not be suitable for many screens (i.e., it takes *more* power than a standard LCD if the pixels are all changing frequently... so you wouldn't watch a movie on it), but it'd be perfect for putting little status monitor screens on all kinds of things, plus for the applications they prototyped.
    • Re:Odd review (Score:4, Informative)

      by modifried ( 605582 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @03:28AM (#11697417) Homepage
      "What a strange review -- first they give us a nice photo comparing the new screen in an iPod to the standard LCD... but the standard iPod example is turned off. There's nothing on the screen we can compare with."

      If I'm not mistaken, I think that was partially the point. The iPod with the NCD was off too. Right below the photo in question is written, "The image remains on the display even after power is removed, and does not require a backlight."
    • Re:Odd review (Score:2, Informative)

      by asbjxrn ( 825716 )
      What a strange review -- first they give us a nice photo comparing the new screen in an iPod to the standard LCD... but the standard iPod example is turned off. There's nothing on the screen we can compare with.

      And as one of the comments pointed out, the display show the playing symbol, but the timing of the track is at 0:00 on two different shots even though the progress bar is 1/3 of the way across?

      But no, further down they discuss the eBook reader example. "This ebook looked great, and really shows

    • Re:Odd review (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Feanturi ( 99866 )
      Huh? Anything you can achieve by pressing a button is easily achievable through software, isn't it?

      What I got out of the line you quote was: The need to refresh a static page that is supposed to be able to stay that way *without power* for weeks at a time suggests that the technology is not yet where they are trying to get it. It is not as stable as needed for their claim to be true.

      Keeping it constantly refreshed with software to get around this deficiency sort of goes against a major feature touted by
    • That actually leads to what could be an interesting problem with the technology...

      It showed the new fancy ipod on, and the standard one off... right? Well, how do we know the new one was on? It could have been off, and just storing the last image on the screen. This could be a real problem for some technologies... IE: Think the computer was on, but it's really just frozen... moving the mouse around, etc.

      Yes, there are ways around that of course (Make the last screen say "Your computer is now off"), but
  • I wonder if they've achieved significant power savings with that iPod. If it not only looks cool, but increases the battery life it'd be a pretty popular mod. They could sell a kit...
  • I like cars, but seeing the concept cars at an auto show is just annoying and frustrating. Same with new tech. Tell me when I can BUY it. I don't care what is going to hit 5 years from now. Most of this stuff vanishes into the vapor anyway.
  • by Richard Kirk ( 535523 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:10AM (#11697670)
    (1) Whiteness

    Ordinary newsprint paper can reflect less than 85% of the light falling on it. Really white colour printer paper can reflect over 97% of the light. Some papers help this along a bit by adding 'optical brightners' - stuff that absorbs UV and flouresces in the blue to counter the natural yellowness of the paper. This suggests if you use a really white background, you can occupy over 10% of the surface with non-active black components, and the white will still look acceptable. This display uses TiO2, the white in white paint (not usually the white in paper), but it looks more like newsprint.

    (2) Blackness

    A typical print black may be a density of about 1.8. Against a good white, 2% reflectance can look pretty black. It is hard to know what they are getting here because this is a multilayered device , and we are seeing reflections from the other layers. Judging by eye, we do not have quite this constrast. A cholesteric LCD has similar storage properties, but loks contrasty (though the ones I have seen always look blue-black).

    (3) Flatness

    I guess the pixels are 0.1mm or larger. The device looks rectangular in cross-section from the diagram (NB: this diagram has no dimensions, and the test suggests it was churned out by marketing droids, rather than the engineers who developed it - caveat lector). This suggests the device may appear deep, and may cast shadows. This is not necessarily a problem: light can diffuse 0.1mm within paper to give things like the Yule-Neilsen effect, but we do not notice a dark halo around print. However, if the thing casts a sharp shadow like some LCDs, then this can look disturbing, particularly when you get moire with halftoning patterns. This depth problem will get a lot worse with a colour display.

    (4) Resolution

    A display is not likely to equal the typical 1800 pixels per inch (70 pixels per mm) for decent looking text. However, this is an unreasonable demand for a refreshable display.

    Print on paper is a tough act to follow. This display looks okay, but no more than that. I would look for a flatter device (though I have little real detail on how flat this is). I worry about the switching time, and lifetime problems that dogged earlier electrochromic displays.

    Disclaimer: my personal favourite technology is electrostrictive gels, which is why I could trot out these numbers.

  • eBooks that update (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tod_miller ( 792541 )
    Order a book off amazon, then flash the latest errata in, have animated tutorials in them.

    The best part of this is the image staying without power...

    Greetings cards with full motions pr0n videos!!

    Shirt ties that gets hacked in meeting and turn into giant trouser snakes.

    Oh the fun.
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:13AM (#11697682) Journal
    I just looked at all thier fuss and bother, and the 'image stays without power'

    But then I read the disclaimer, if you shake them the image disspears!

    Nothing more than a uppity etch-a-sketch! Works on same principles.

    Nanotech my ass!
  • I use lynx you insensitive clod.

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"