While we're still fawning over tiny e-paper displays in e-book readers, the Japanese government is installing panels in Tokyo to aide evacuation in disaster situations—a very good idea, as it turns out.


The multi-part displays, measuring at 1m x 3.2m and supporting a 240x768 resolution have been placed alongside a few main thoroughfares in the city, and are intended to give pedestrians disaster response instructions. E-paper is perfect for application like this, for a few reasons. A dynamic display is incredibly valuable in a disaster, as it can change its contents to suit the details of a specific situation. A traditional LCD panel would be the most obvious choice for such a thing, but it suffers from excessive power requirements and a lack a durability, which are crucial limitation for the earthquake-prone region.

Power consumption for the whole unit, which can pull data from servers via Wi-Fi, is a mere 24W, and E-paper can keep displaying data after power has been cut, though it can't change it. A smaller unit, installed at bus stops, consumes just 9W. This test is just to explore the possibilities of low-power digital signage, but the advantages seem obvious—deployments like this are being help up by price more than anything else. [Tech-on]