A dual Analog-Digital wristwatch using US E Ink's electronic paper display technology was recently launched by Art Technology, Hong Kong. The E Ink technology depicts digital time with the look of electronic paper and can be read accurately and instantly from any angle - vastly improving on dull liquid crystal displays (LCDs) that typify previous digital watches. The customizable dial allows the owner to select among styles, from the precise detail of full numerals and indices to the simplicity of no markings all.
The Phosphor™ branded luxury watches feature a bold geometry, generously oversized buttons and knobs, and a luxuriously thick strap. However what makes the E Ink watch truly unique is that the entire watch dial is an E Ink Vizplex™ electronic paper display.
Although revolutionary in concept, electronic ink is a straightforward fusion of chemistry, physics and electronics. It has millions of tiny microcapsules, about the diameter of a human hair. In one incarnation, each microcapsule contains positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a negative electric field is applied, the white particles move to the top of the microcapsule where they become visible to the user. This makes the surface appear white at that spot. At the same time, an opposite electric field pulls the black particles to the bottom of the microcapsules where they are hidden. By reversing this process, the black particles appear at the top of the capsule, which now makes the surface appear dark at that spot.
Source E Ink (image not to scale)
To form an E Ink electronic display, the ink is printed onto a sheet of plastic film that is laminated to a layer of circuitry. The circuitry forms a pattern of pixels that can then be controlled by a display driver. These microcapsules are suspended in a liquid "carrier medium" allowing them to be printed using existing screen printing processes onto virtually any surface, including glass, plastic, fabric and even paper. Ultimately electronic ink will permit most any surface to become a display, bringing information out of the confines of traditional devices and into the world around us.
"The phosphor watch with the ink on paper look E Ink display has a significantly better viewing angle than watches with typical Liquid Crystal displays, and a much better contrast in high brightness situations than any emissive display," said Chris King, SID Fellow, and co-founder of Planar Systems.
Previous luxury watches using E Ink displays have been limited to small editions and priced at $2,000 or more. Art Technology is selling this watch directly from its website at www.phosphorwatches.com for $250 - affordable for any watch enthusiast who will enjoy the combination of luxury and convenience of the analog-digital Phosphor E Ink watch.
E Ink's cutting edge Vizplex film based electronic paper technology enables a new generation of watch devices with the following display benefits:
Ultra High Contrast: The display is made up of pure black and pure white particles, which allow the same contrast as found on a printed page; more than twice the contrast, of a conventional LCD panel. Although the exact materials are not revealed, the company says that paper like appearance is achieved by paper like pigments, so maybe that means titanium dioxide for white and carbon black for black. It can be easily read in either bright sunlight or in dimly lit environments.
Low Power Consumption: Since the display is readable under very low light conditions, no backlighting is required. The display also has an inherently stable 'memory effect' that requires no power to maintain an image. For these reasons, battery life can be extended.
Wide Viewing Angle: With a viewing cone of 180 degrees, the electrophoretic technology overcomes the disadvantages of conventional displays when it comes to off-axis viewing. Together with its high contrast, it allows the user to read the time at a glance from any angle.
To find out more attend Printed Electronics Europe 2008.