Debunking three of the biggest myths surrounding flexible e-paper displays
Flexible, plastic e-paper displays have been around for a while now, and appear on a number of everyday devices, from smart jewellery, watches and credit cards to digital signage, labelling and ticketing. But, despite people seeing or using these displays on a regular basis, there are still a number of common myths and misconceptions around the technology.
In this blog, we look at the top three myths to help you understand and recognise why flexible e-paper is becoming such a popular choice for product designers looking to integrate a differentiated display in to their products.
Myth 1: Plastic e-paper displays are only available as customised products
For some time now, there has been a certain apprehension in the market surrounding the integration of flexible plastic e-paper into products. This is based on an assumption that e-paper displays are only available as bespoke, customised products — which are associated with high costs, long lead times and the need to buy at very high volumes.
However, at Plastic Logic we offer a wide choice of off-the-shelf, flexible e-paper displays in a range of specific sizes (1.1” to 15.4”). If you can make your product’s form factor work with one of the off-the-shelf product sizes available then it’s going to be cheaper, faster and easier for your business.
And with this, product designers can also buy in any quantity (including single units for evaluation purposes) and can have the displays in their hands within a matter of days.
To help you decide the right path to take for your business though, our recent blog looks at the pros and cons of both bespoke and off-the-shelf designs to help you develop your product and get it to market fast and headache-free.
Myth 2: When the battery runs out, you lose what’s shown on an e-paper display
Unlike traditional LCD and OLED displays, which require a constant source of power to display anything, once a plastic e-paper display is showing an image, it will remain there and will not consume any power. Even if you remove the power source completely, whatever is on the display will remain visible.
This is because flexible e-paper utilises bi-stable technology, meaning that energy is only required when updating the display, not when maintaining information on the display.
Blendology’s innovative professional networking conference badges are a good example of an e-paper display use case, as its extremely low power consumption allows the badges to be used over a series of days without charging. This is a real game-changer as delegates have the ability to flick through various conference agendas and venue maps, without having to worry about losing visibility (or battery for that matter).
Myth 3: Flexible e-paper is difficult to read in sunlight
On the contrary, it’s LCD or LED displays that become virtually unreadable in bright sunlight as they rely on backlighting, which can’t compete with the brightness of the sun.
Conversely, flexible e-paper displays remain perfectly readable in the sun because of its reflective screen. The dark areas absorb the sunlight, whilst the lighter areas reflect it, therefore creating a clear and visible image.
The engineers at Land Rover BAR recently saw the potential to use plastic e-paper when working on data displays for Ben Ainslie’s latest America’s Cup boat. They needed a display with daylight readability for the sub-tropical conditions that the R1 faced and our flexible e-paper displays proved to be the perfect fit
Given the above, it seems that when it comes to flexible plastic e-paper displays it’s best to keep an open mind and not believe everything you hear. Our advice is always to take the time to do thorough research and due diligence to properly assess the technology’s suitability for your requirement. While e-paper is certainly not a panacea for every display-related challenge, for many applications and use cases these displays have a very powerful business case that can enable you to stimulate exciting new opportunities for market growth, differentiation and competitive advantage.