Fujitsu has developed what it claims is the world's first electronic paper that can be flexed, can display colour images and can do so when the power is turned off.
The key to Fujitsu's e-paper is a film substrate that's sufficiently flexible to allow the paper to be bent, but rugged enough to prevent the image from distorting. And, unlike today's LCD panels, the image doesn't distort when it's pressed.
In operation, the e-paper uses one-hundredth to one-thousandth of the energy required by "conventional display technologies", Fujitsu said, falling to zero when the image is unchanged. This so-called "memory function" makes the e-paper ideal for billboards, menus, any back-lit advertising panels and other documents that are changed regular but not frequently.
Changing the image requires very small amounts of energy, Fujitsu said, that are equivalent to the radio signals used to exchange information between contactless smartcards.
And the picture quality is good too, boasted the developer. The e-paper is formed from three separate display layers, one each for red, blue and green pixels. There are no colour or polarising filters to limit the transmission of light through the paper, resulting in "colour that is significantly more vivid than conventional reflective-type LCDs", Fujitsu claimed.
And with no need to update the image continually - thanks to the 'memory function' - static images can be displayed without flicker, apparently.
Right now, it only exists in the lab, of course, but Fujitsu said it plans to begin testing the product in real-world environments with a view to a commercial release sometime between April 2006 and March 2007, the company's 2006 fiscal year.
Philips began producing a flexible display system, the Polymer Vision PV-QML5, back in March, but its version only provides four shades of grey, not colour. Philips has been developing e-paper technology for most of the decade, and its latest bendy panels use a non-volatile display material from E Ink which, like the Fujitsu development, can present a picture when the power is cut.
HP presented the first colour plastic display last year, based on LCD technology. However, it required a constant power supply to maintain the image. ®
Fujitsu's colour e-paper