Photo via Liquavista
Digital newspapers are on the horizon, but right now there are issues with creating paper-like readers that are interactive, fast and up to par with consumer expectations on how fancy an e-reader should be.
So scientists in Cambridge, UK have decided that a £12m three-year project to create the next generation of e-paper is the logical step forward.
They plan to develop fully interactive, full-color newspapers and magazines that exist on thin, portable, and paper-like readers – the truly Star Trek version of those old fashioned things that are made of trees. The e-Paper of Today
The e-Readers of today, like the Kindle, Sony e-Reader, iLiad by iRex, Astak's EZ Reader and so forth all are lovely and use e-Paper technology to make the screen feel more like paper to a reader’s eyes. But, they’re still relatively bulky gadgets.
Plastic Logic has come up with a cool prototype for newspapers that includes a flexible screen that you can bend upwards and it turns the newspaper page. Cool stuff. Except that it takes awhile to load, isn’t all that flexible, and is black and white.
So Plastic Logic, along with the Technology Strategy Board, is backing a project by Liquavista to improve upon anything we’ve seen so far.
The e-Paper of Tomorrow
Liquavista is now working on developing a flexible screen that is full color, and would be as interactive as flipping through the pages of a traditional newspaper or magazine. It could even include video.
The Geeky Details
We won’t get too techy here, but the technology used is electrowetting. Basically, a thin layer of liquid is manipulated by electricity so that it changes color. It is an improvement upon LCDs, as it uses much less power. Plus, the cells will be able to change so quickly that video can be played on the device.
What will be very interesting, and critical to weighing the impacts of e-Paper against the impacts of traditional paper, is how much energy is used in manufacturing a device and running it during reading time. On its side is the fact that the device can be updated constantly throughout the day, without the need to print on more and more paper, and will require less energy than a computer requires when someone reads the paper online.
Researchers realize that this kind of technology holds huge potential for minimizing the eco-impact of getting our daily news and information in real time. All the elements of news online – written articles as well as video – will be available in our palms, in a paper-like format that we’re comfortable with, all while using far less power than a computer.