Three years after the debut of Pearl electrophoretic displays, E Ink announced last week its new display technology for monochrome e-readers: Carta. The new Amazon Kindle Paperwhite will be the first product to incorporate Carta displays. Compared to Pearl, Carta promises higher reflectance and better contrast.
What attracted my attention however was something that went completely unnoticed: on the specification sheet, E Ink now says an image update can be done in only 120 milliseconds. What is even more interesting is that this specification is also valid for Pearl. In the past, a Pearl display would require something like 250 milliseconds at the minimum to update under typical 15V driving conditions (the current E Ink waveforms last 450 milliseconds). The fact that both Pearl and Carta officially support fast image update gives us a hint that this is probably a special high voltage mode (electrophoretic displays are voltage driven).
Fast image update only works for 1 bit images, so it will not be possible to have the usual 16 grey levels under this driving mode. Nevertheless, this is good news for future e-readers which will be able to play some basic animations at 8 images per second. I was wondering what this refresh rate could enable in terms of functionalities, so I asked our Web & Graphic Designer to make a simple animated GIF running at 8 images per second. Here it is in all its glory:
Another piece of news from last week announced a new collaboration between Pocketbook and Plastic Logic . The two companies are working on a secondary display for smartphones that will provide a low-power electrophoretic display to complement the primary screen on the phone. This is somewhat similar to the YotaPhone but with a major difference: the electrophoretic display will be based on flexible OTFT backplane technology from Plastic Logic. Because it is built on plastic, not glass, the device will be shatterproof and will be used as a protective cover for the LCD or OLED display on the phone. So for the first time ever, a display will be protecting another display. This is a good example of how flexible electronics can be integrated into everyday's objects to enable new functions.
The video below (from Slashgear) demonstrates the concept, as shown by Pocketbook during IFA: