Electrochromic displays are reflective displays which use inks which can change from one to a second colour when a voltage is applied. The displays today cost 5 US cents per square centimeter of active area.
As an indication of how electrochromic displays can be used imaginatively in low cost devices, Spanish researchers have recently announced artificial fingernails that have multilayered electrochromic surfaces that are electrically switchable to different colours. It is envisaged that they will be sold with a camera that enables the lady to match her nails to her dress at the flick of a button.
Market leader in printed electrochromic displays, Commotion Printed Display Solutions CPDS, launched the technology in the Valentine's card in a classic of good marketing because the customer was not a highly discriminating electronics company but a store noted for expertise in other things such as clothing. Volumes were manageable too. CPDS has followed this by selling to down market electronics companies rather than the Sony's of this world that require the ultimate in quality. An example is the electronic time temperature recoding labels made by Infratab of the USA and KSW Microtec of Germany. These labels sell for a few dollars each compared with the trade price of only one dollar or so for the Valentine's card. CPDS is walking before it tries to run.
Indeed, in 2004, Emily Selene De Rotstein of CPDS expressed the view that the best market for her technology is likely to be single colour passive matrix displays rather than multicolour displays. The company is clearly in the low cost passive reflecting display market primarily, and, while almost everyone else is striving for the ultimate, it has little competition.