Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Orange to pilot world's first e-newspaper

The world's first entirely electronic newspapers will go on trial in France next week, offering not only morning headlines but automatic updates every hour throughout the day.

The touch-screen, A5-sized, device uses "ePaper" and "eInk" technology to make it as much like reading normal newsprint as possible. It includes both WiFi and a 3G mobile chip so news can be refreshed every hour during the day, even on the move.

There are already electronic books on the market, notably Amazon's Kindle, which was launched last year but is yet to make it to non-US markets. But Orange's Read&Go is specifically designed to give the same impression as reading a traditional newspaper, including using display technology that paralyses bubbles of ink and is not, like a laptop screen, unreadable in bright sunlight.

The pilot scheme, in partnership with five French newspapers including Le Monde and Les Echos, will run until mid-summer, and could pave the way for a commercial service within a few years.

A key testing ground is the technology itself – including how it stands up to rolling updates from five major content providers and how easy the device is to use.

Orange has also already launched a worldwide call for next-generation flexible electronic paper technology with a view to replacing the rigid tablet being used in the pilot scheme with a more user-friendly format that could potentially be rolled up when not in use.

There are also major questions for the newspapers to answer about how the content is organised compared with a printed paper, and how stories are best laid out or divided according to what works in a smaller, digital format. But Orange insists the device will replicate the printed paper, rather than simply providing mobile access to the paper's online news website.

The business model for a commercial scheme is also under review – including the possibility of a subscription to one or more specific newspapers, or a pay-on-demand account.

But it is the advertising potential that is likely to grab media groups' attention. Printed newspaper circulations have been hard hit by the rise of internet news sites, with ad revenues falling in parallel. And despite considerable investment in websites allied to the national papers, the business model is yet to show a profit. Not only could a successful electronic newspaper device reinvigorate the sector's revenues but it could also open the door to more innovative advertising including interactive or location-sensitive marketing – some of which will be tested by Orange as part of this summer's trial.

Nicki Lyons, an analyst at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "Anything that makes content easier to consume will have a significant impact. Newspapers have been quite innovative with the development of content online – they are streets ahead of television companies. There will be a tipping point where that investment starts to pay off."

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

E-ink annouces next generation segmented display cells

E Ink(R) Corporation, the leading developer and marketer of electronic paper display technology, today announced general availability of its next generation segmented display cells (SDC). The SDC products are simple digit, icon and alpha-numeric displays, offering exceptional readability in a paper-thin form factor that uses minimal
battery power. The new SDCs are 40% thinner with a wider operational temperature range and increased flexibility for repetitive 3-D bends or 2-D conformable solutions. Applications include consumer electronics, PC-accessory, display smartcards, capacity indicators, electronic shelf labels, signage and communications applications. The SDC displays use the same E Ink Vizplex(TM) technology that is shipping in popular electronic book devices such as the Amazon Kindle, SONY Reader and iRex iLiad.

"When you need information to make a decision, an E Ink SDC display lets you see it quickly and clearly from any angle," said Russ Wilcox, President and CEO, E Ink Corporation. "With a paper-thin and flexible plastic display that can be cut to any shape, innovative product designs are limited only by the imagination of the designers."

"After an extensive review of display technologies, Delphi chose E Ink's segmented electronic paper displays for our wireless, bi-directional key fob that has been designed to offer car-to-user and user-to-car communication over an extremely long range," said Joe DiCarlo, Director of Engineering for Controls and Security in North America, Delphi. "The groundbreaking fob offers packaging flexibility and does not consume much power. Because it provides drivers valuable vehicle information and control, it is imperative that its display can be read in bright sunlight. Thanks to E Ink, that is possible."

"E Ink has enabled us to offer superior display solutions to the world's leading producers of smart cards for bank card and OTC token applications" said George Ou, CEO of Smart Displayer. "E Ink's displays are flexible, extremely thin, sunlight readable and consume very little power."

High Performance Rugged Displays

Thinner, more flexible and wider operation ranges all highlight the performance increase of the latest generation of E Ink SDCs. Three height levels are available, depending on backplane configuration: thin PET 330 microns, PET 380 microns, or PI 375 microns. PET options provide 200 micron design rules for the art work or space and trace of 8 mils by 8 mils. The finer pitch PI option uses 100 micron design rules for 4 mils by 4 mils. Increased temperature ranges with operations from -10(degree)C to 60(degree)C, and storage from -25(degree)C to 75(degree)C.

Think Outside the Rectangle

Organic non-rectangular unique shapes are possible, including holes, curves, and other non-standard designs. Additionally, E Ink's SDC platform provides viewable angle of nearly 180(degree) and can be viewed under a variety of lighting conditions from direct sun to low-level ambient light. E Ink's Vizplex based electronic paper solutions are bistable, reflective displays which enable the image to remain for over a year with zero power.

Custom Design to Mass Production

Custom rapid product development is easy with E Ink's SDC "Design to Mass Production" program. Starting from a customer-supplied CAD file, E Ink typically can supply production-ready samples within eight weeks after artwork approval and enter mass production within twelve weeks. E Ink has partnered with several chip suppliers, including Dialog Semiconductor, Epson Semiconductor, Solomon-Systech, and Citizen who have developed compatible segmented display driver ICs.

Standard SDC Products

E Ink is now offering six standard SDC designs for fast prototyping and application specific solutions. Standard parts include stacked 10-bar, graduated 5-bar, 100%, MB/GB, 8-digit and 6-digit SDCs.

About E Ink Corporation

E Ink Corporation is the world's leading supplier of electronic paper display (EPD) technologies. E Ink's technology is ideal for many consumer and industrial applications spanning handheld devices, eBooks, PC-accessories, watches, clocks, and public information displays and promotional signs. E Ink is a private corporation that includes among its investors and strategic partners TOPPAN Printing Company, The Hearst Corporation, Intel Capital, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and Motorola, Inc. E Ink news can be found at:

Worldwide ART Technology, Funkwerk Information Technologies Karlsfeld (FITK) GmbH, Lexar Media, Motorola, Qwizdom, Seiko-Epson, Smart Displayer, and UPM have shipped products powered by E Ink's segmented ePaper technology.

Thinner, wider operational temp range, rugged ePaper SDCs enable
displays to go where none have gone before