ePaper, evolution and experimentation: the 'State of Display' : Page 3 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.

The growing popularity of ePaper is partially due to its strengths in these areas. ePaper is well-suited to deployment under direct sunlight thanks to its non-reflective properties. It can also take advantage of solar power sources, but with power only needed to change the image on the screen rather than to maintain it, ePaper offers exceptionally low-power consumption regardless. There are also ingenious cases where ePaper is being developed into flexible displays that demonstrate greater durability, resistant to snapping, blunt force, or scratches.

ePaper’s particularly ability to combat specific issues in glass and LCD display design is encouraging engineers to utilise the material, with 60 percent stating that they were likely or very likely to employ ePaper in the future. However, current usage remains low: only 5 percent of those surveyed are using ePaper in their current designs, and two thirds have never used the technology before.

To explain why few engineers are using ePaper now, despite a clear desire to use it in the future, we have to go beyond the attitudes of the engineer and analyse the supply chain that they interact with.

Supply and Demand

As we’ve seen so far, engineers are generally reticent to introduce experimental materials into their display designs. A lack of familiarity and understanding of the benefits, perceived cost, and the challenges of justifying new technology were all common reasons for engineers to avoid a switch to more experimental materials, even though they may be more suitable to address the challenges that they face.

However, there is a contingent of engineers who are still motivated to experiment, and who recognise the suitability of ePaper to combat their issues. Experimental materials require successful use cases to reach the mainstream, and these are driven in the early stages by a minority of visionaries who see value in the technology.

To facilitate these cases, engineers are reliant upon their supply chain. They need access to test kits, samples of differing sizes, and other utilities that will form the building blocks of their experiments as they familiarise themselves with the material and integrate it into their technology.

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