Electronic paper, also called e-paper or electronic ink display is a display technology designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike a conventional flat panel display, which uses a backlight to illuminate its pixels, electronic paper reflects light like ordinary paper and is capable of holding text and images indefinitely without drawing electricity, while allowing the image to be changed later.
To build e-paper, several different technologies exist, some using plastic substrate and electronics so that the display is flexible. E-paper is considered more comfortable to read than conventional displays. This is due to the stable image, which does not need to be refreshed constantly, the wider viewing angle, and the fact that it reflects ambient light rather than emitting its own light. An e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image fading. Lightweight and durable, e-paper can currently provide only a monochrome display, e.g., black on white. The contrast ratio in available displays as of 2008 might be described as similar to that of newspaper, though newly-developed implementations are slightly better. There is ongoing competition among manufacturers to provide full-color capability.
Applications include e-book readers capable of displaying digital versions of books and e-paper magazines, electronic pricing labels in retail shops, and general signage time tables at bus stations, electronic billboards,, the mobile phone Motorola FONE F3, and the e-book display device Amazon Kindle.
Following on from the idea about rolling a bendable screen around a “roller” that contained all the electronic components and batteries, etc, like a “Scroll” so that you could have a portable read-only platform for newspaper content (see the post Blogs won’t beat us: News Chief). Depending on how pliable the e-paper screen is, you could wrap up a large screen into a small scroll and carry it in a small bag. The difference with this idea is that the screen does not have to be stored flat. You might wear screens out quite quickly so they would ideally be designed so that they can be easily and cheaply replaced.
Another advantage is that these virtual newspaper Scrolls will save environmentally on using paper for newspapers.
Eventually you might be able to have flat virtual A4 pages like thick paper or cardboard that could be loaded with a page of information, be disconnected from the “writing pad” and still carry the information pattern on the page until it is placed back into a “writing pad” where the information content can be changed. The patterns on virtual A4 paper would have a certain lifetime before they fade or become illegible.
You might even design the virtual news-scroll e-papyrus with small fixed areas that can display in colour for pictures or ads. Each page would then have a more or less fixed format with specific areas for white space, text, headings, pictures in b/w and/or colour and areas set aside for advertising or classifieds. If the layout was predictable it wouldn’t be so annoying – as some new in-your-face ads on websites are becoming. Advertisers could be given accurate download stats and they might be able to customise delivery of their ads. There would be advantages to scrolling page by page with these devices – the information processing could look to the monochrome pixels that change state from black to white or visa versa rather than refreshing the whole screen every time a new page is loaded. The full colour areas would need to be completely refreshed with every new image and would require a lot more bandwidth.