E-ink technology is easier on the eyes for reading, even if the devices it's currently deployed in feel nothing like a book or magazine. But AU Optronics gives us another tantalizing look at the future with a proof of concept ereader that's completely self-powered, while still as flexible as a piece of paper.
Part of the reason your Kindle or Nook can't bend, at least easily, is all the ancillary electronics needed to connect to a wifi network, store and process the digital content and of course, that battery. But with their Un-plugged Flexible E-paper Display, AUO has sandwiched a flexible organic TFT display to a thin-film photovoltaic battery to create a self-powered e-reader that can be bent and twisted just like a piece of paper. We're assuming it's not as capable as the Kindle in its current form, but it does boast a six inch SVGA display and manages to free itself from the oppressive restrictions of a bulky battery. That is, as long as you use it in direct sunlight. Unfortunately when used indoors the efficiency of the battery's photovoltaics aren't quite at the point where the e-ink display can be operated without an external power source.
The technology behind this prototype has already been implemented in simpler devices, like a watch that only needs to keep track of and display the time. But since its flexible nature mostly comes as a result of it being so thin, it also has the potential to slim down any device it's used in. From phones, to tablets, to ereaders, which could eventually recreate the experience of folding or rolling a magazine or newspaper. [AU Optronics via Tech-On]