ePaper, evolution and experimentation: the 'State of Display' : Page 2 of 4

October 03, 2018 //By Tim Burne, CEO of Plastic Logic
ePaper, evolution and experimentation: the 'State of Display'
Tim Burne, CEO of Plastic Logic, discusses some of the findings from his company's recent survey of engineers and their approach to, and challenges with, designing-in displays.

Most engineers also hold healthy levels of creative license. 66 percent consider the choice of display to have a major impact on the final product, and 36 percent are even given free rein to choose the display solution to incorporate in their final designs. The display is considered crucial, and engineers have the power to experiment with the best materials for it.

Unfortunately, this isn’t translating into innovative product design; the vast majority of engineers (80 percent) are failing to conduct rigorous assessments of display technology in their design projects. Most are also failing to review their display technology regularly, with almost half conducting a review or refresh only every two years.

This overall hesitancy towards due diligence and experimentation suggests that huge opportunities to create differentiation and competitive advantage are routinely missed. With a window of potentially years between each review, and only 20 percent of engineers making serious effort to experiment with alternatives technologies when this review identifies issues, it’s no surprise that consumers are running into the same old frustrations with the same old products.

If products employ the same display materials within their designs, they are going to suffer from the same drawbacks and limitations. The engineers surveyed demonstrated a clear hegemony in display materials, with 62 percent using either LCD Graphical (35 percent) or OLED (27 percent) in designs from the past twelve months alone. Consequently, users are left trying to differentiate between competing products, without being able to select one that addresses the weaknesses of the other.

What makes ePaper different?

This uniformity doesn’t only cause trouble for the consumers. The popularity of glass displays in product design means that engineers are forced to designing their devices in ways that mitigate its weaknesses.

Glass is cheap, easy to mass-produce, familiar to consumers, and provides great visual fidelity. However, these strengths come at a cost in terms of durability, power consumption, and reflectivity. OLED and LCD Graphical displays cannot be read under direct sunlight, are notoriously power-hungry, cannot bend, and have negligible resistance to impact damage.

When engineers were asked what qualities of a display they valued highest, they specified these weaknesses. Ruggedness (37 percent), outdoor readability (31 percent) and power consumption (30 percent) were of the highest priority because they are the attributes that engineers working with glass aim to achieve.

Next: Growing popularity

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