For most people, the only E Ink display they've ever interacted with is the 6-inch panel used in e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle range. That seems set to continue, but in the near future we may see a much larger e-paper display offered thanks to the creation of folding e-paper.
At SID Display Week in Los Angeles, E Ink had a booth showing off a range of new products. But the one that caught our eye is a new, folding E Ink display that allows for a book-form e-reader.
As ARMdevices.net reports, the folding prototype display is made of plastic and uses a 10.2-inch Carta Mobius panel offering 220 pixels-per-inch density. It doesn't give up any of the features commonly associated with e-paper, so it still only uses power when the information on the display is changed and text looks great.
While a folding E Ink display is highly desirable, this prototype includes two features that work against it in terms of ever becoming a viable product. The first is the fact the panel has a glossy finish. One of the key benefits of e-paper is the ability to view it in all lighting conditions, even bright sunlight. A glossy finish suggests that isn't the case here.
The second negative against this display is the limited fold. As you can see in the video above, although the panel can be folded shut like a book, the hinge area is rather thick. That's because the panel is limited by the bending radius meaning it can't be folded completely flat.
If E Ink can improve the bend radius so the panel really can close right up like a book, and remove the glossy finish, then I can see a new Kindle on the horizon that truly is just like a real book. Until then, I can't see this prototype being turned into a mass-produced commercial product.
If you keep watching the video you'll also see an E Ink dress, a 42-inch panel for digital signage, a credit card, an interactive whiteboard, and Plastic Logic offering a range of flexible and touchscreen displays using E Ink tech for devices including tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches. Color e-paper is also still being pushed forward by Plastic Logic, with E Ink having unveiled a full color panel last year.