Electronic Paper: Getting ready for mass production

We have introduced Plastic Logic electronic paper products last year in another article and just recently they have received a USD 100 Million cash injection from investors to build a factory for mass production in Dresden, Germany until the end of 2007.

On the same day competitor and Phillips incubator Polymer Vision announced in a press release that it will become an independent company – a first step to raise new capital expected to be in the region of about USD 100 Million as well. In the same press release Polymer Vision said that it is planning to start volume production of its 5-inch monochrome rollable display during 2007 in cooperation with existing partners – something that it had already announced in a video (multimedia link) available on their web site for the end of 2006.

What makes Polymer Vision’s solution so interesting is its rollable display technology that allows for larger displays in small pocket devices. A early prototype called Readius was shown during 2005 on computer fairs based on Polymer Vision’s rollable display PV-QML5. The company sees this product as a first step to bring rollable display technology to all mobile devices and is expecting a migration path over the next 10 years.

Besides being rollable other key benefits of these new organic electronics compared to existing silicon based display technology are lower power consumption, much lighter and almost paper thin displays that are readable in normal sunlight conditions. The company believes the product is best suited for text based content with simple graphics like e-books, maps or GPS applications.

Click on the image for the jump (multimedia).

link to Polymer Vision video

The prototype and most likely the mass produced product is an embedded computer based on a Gumstix developed motherboard running Linux. It will have a 4.8” display with a 240 x 320 (quarter VGA) resolution, 10:1 contrast ratio with four gray levels. With switching times in the region of about 0.5 second this should make the device interesting for reading email, electronic books, maps or GPS applications.

We could envision such a device when connected to an mobile phone e.g. via Bluetooth as quite versatile and provided its small size and weight to be used quickly by many. It could also provide new life to mobile applications that until now have not been taken up broadly due to small display sizes.

You can see more of Polymer Vision’s rollable display technology in this second video.

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