Disposable Paper e-Readers, Animated Newspapers Just Around the Corner

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Are you ready for this? A low-cost and perhaps even disposable e-reader that displays text and color images with clarity and total portability. Magazines, newspapers, packaging sitting on store shelves—all will be animated with constantly changing images.

Calling their new breakthrough an "e-paper on paper," electrical engineering professor Andrew Steckl and University of Cincinnati doctoral student Duk Young Kim have developed a way to place colored text and video on flexible, organic paper.

Similar to pixels on a screen, a process called "electrowetting" applies a voltage to millions of colored droplets within a display to form the images. Electrowetting is up to 10 times faster than the electrophoresis process used by Amazon's Kindle. Current e-readers' hard screens are too expensive and too fragile. The new technique allows e-readers to be more readily available to those who can't afford a $100 Kindle. The goal is to mimic e-readers on paper, which has good reflectivity and contrast.

Steckl estimates that a commercial prototype featuring flexible e-paper is still about three to five years away. Options include e-paper sold in dispensing machines or formatted into a binder or spiral with pages that can be electronically accessed. Or maybe even a book that can be refilled. Regardless of the format, e-readers have become part of our changing lifestyle. Amazon is already selling more electronic books than hardcover texts.

For an additional perspective, check out this video:

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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