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Finally, an Electronic Paper Display I Can Crumple Up and Throw Away

Illustration for article titled Finally, an Electronic Paper Display I Can Crumple Up and Throw Away

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]

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I'm unconvinced of the need for a bendable display. Ebook readers are as thin as they need to get. If they get thinner and floppier they will be more like paper, but why should they be like paper in those particular aspects? Sure, newspapers have traditionally been printed on large pages that have to be folded for portability, but with e-readers where text layout will conform to the screen size and text size selected, there's no need to make the display the size of a newspaper and require people to fold it up to carry it around.

I can see making very large displays for signage, etc., that would be conveniently transported by rolling or folding, but not something I want to carry around for everyday use.

And why would you want multiple display pages in an e-book? Just so it can be like a paper book? You're only going to be looking at one page at a time. Multiple e-ink sheets in a book is pointless. It's like carrying around multiple e-book readers now.

Flexible displays are a novelty- interesting technology but a solution searching for a problem.