Brainboxes in Ohio say they have ended the tablet wars before they've even really begun.
No more will harassed consumers need to weigh up the benefits of e-ink versus LCD or LED vid-capable screens. No more will bank accounts be plundered by the need to purchase costly glass-based displays of either type.
Instead, no more than five years from now, moving images will be displayable on cheap throwaway sheets of paper in Harry Potter style.
"It is pretty exciting," says Andrew Steckl, electrical engineering prof at Cincinnati uni. "With the right paper, the right process and the right device fabrication technique, you can get results that are as good as you would get on glass, and our results are good enough for a video-style e-reader."
Steckl believes that future display devices could be rollable, feel like paper and deliver books, news and colour video in bright-light conditions.
"Nothing looks better than paper for reading," says the prof. "We hope to have something that would actually look like paper but behave like a computer monitor. We would have something that is very cheap, very fast, full-color and at the end of the day or the end of the week, you could pitch it into the trash."
Steckl and graduate student Duk Young Kim developed their results using an "electrowetting" display in which coloured droplets are manipulated using electrical fields. The matric or host material on which the display was mounted was ordinary paper, rather than rigid and expensive glass as seen in devices like the Kindle (e-ink) or iPad (touchscreen video display).
Steckly and Kim's research is published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, here (subscriber link). ®