Sunday, June 03, 2007

Colour digital paper around the corner

Last week digital paper was in the news again, when the French financial newspaper Les Echos announced two propositions for e-readers for its subscribers. One of the propositions is the iLiad, a black and white e-reader, manufactured by iRex Technologies, a spin-out of Philips. When talking to people a black and white e-reader is seen as a drawback; why is there not yet full colour digital paper. Of course such people forget that it is not just a black and white e-reader, but one with sixteen grey tones. So its not just a four grey tones like for example STAReBOOK. But yes, it would be great to have full colour digital paper.

The development of coloured digital paper has been started long time ago in laboratories. Last year Hitachi and Bridgestone showed an example of digital paper which could render colour for 40 percent of the entire survive. The colour prototype has a diameter of 13 inch, a resolution of 352 times 512 pixels. But it is not just a colour problem to solve, but also a power management problem. During the process of turning a page, the machine consumes energy. When a page has been turned and is definite, .no energy is consumed. This power management leads to a different way of programming.

Last month LG Philips showed full colour digital paper. It was an A4, 0,3 mm thin, thin and showing 4096 colours. Just like the iLiad has 16 grey tones, so this coloured paper has 16 colours per red green and blue channel, making up 4096 colours. This is contrary to a conventional screen , which renders 16,7 million colours with 256 channels in red, green and blue.

It looks like it will take some more years before colour digital paper will be to an acceptable level. And for colour books it will be acceptable. But the digital paper will not be able to render video yet. Uploading of images takes a lot of energy.

Of course colour digital paper is not only interesting for newspapers and books. But digital paper will also be usable for screens of smart mobile telephones as Readius of Polymer Vision, another Philips spin-out, is demonstrating. Other applications have not left the laboratories yet.

20070607: Check an article by Reuters

Blog Posting Number: 773

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