EPDs: What can we expect in 2018 and beyond?
Plastic Logic reached some incredible milestones throughout 2017, working alongside brands such as BAR, Blendology, L!BER8 and Fuze to create innovate sailing displays, smart jewellery, networking badges and multi-function credit cards that have served to illustrate the enormous diversity and potential of e-paper technology.
In this blog we quiz Plastic Logic Director of Commercial Operations Matt Pick for his predictions on what we can expect to see from Plastic Logic and a maturing EPD market over the next year.
Q: According to some of the latest analyst research, there will be a broader adoption of e-paper displays in the education sector in 2018. Do you agree? If so, what is driving this?
Matt: Yes I certainly agree with that statement. We’ve been supplying e-readers to education for a number of years and we certainly continue to see strong interest in the sector. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, EPD awareness – more people know about e-paper, have experienced the technology and understand its benefits, so the barriers to adoption are smaller. As more and more people adopt the technology this also drives down the cost, making e-paper more commercially accessible to a broader audience. At the same time, we’re also seeing EPD capabilities increase e.g. a diversity of display sizes and colour options, both of which create new opportunities for innovation especially for schools and colleges. And finally, there are environmental concerns regarding the increasing impact of paper consumption which work in e-paper’s favour.
Q: What other key sectors will be driving the adoption of e-paper in 2018? Why?
Matt: We believe that many of the factors driving the education sector towards EPDs, will also be mirrored in corporate enterprise. In particular, we are expecting to see increased adoption in wearables – jewellery, clothing and watches. 2018 will also see the first mass market adoption of new types of payment/smart cards incorporating EPD displays, transforming what has been a fairly static product for a number of years.
Q: What are the most popular display sizes and what is driving that?
Matt: By volume, the most popular display sizes are the smaller displays, so between 1.1” and 2.1”. This can be directly attributable to the aforementioned surge in smart card applications. While wholesale adoption of shelf-edge labelling hasn’t quite reached a global scale yet (much to do with the large CAPEX to roll out) we will also start to increasingly see new longer and thinner form factors take up a large chunk of the market in 2018.
Q: Yet another e-paper credit card was launched at CES 2018, is this a trend we will see increasingly in the future?
Matt: E-paper credit cards are the future and we believe that every card will have a display within the next few years. We are already dealing with partner applications that are forecasting early volumes well into the tens of millions and we expect to see a flurry of rival offerings launching into the market in the next 12-24 months, which will almost certainly consolidate in time.
Q: What signs are there that EPD technology is maturing and how will this continue in 2018?
Matt: As with any maturing product, we are seeing cost of EPDs plummet as widespread awareness of the technology grows. Once seen as a one-dimensional technology, only applicable to e-readers and similar applications, e-paper is now acknowledged as a proven technology with endless possibilities and use cases, and more and more industries and sectors will embrace it in the years to come.
Q: Are there any new product features / innovations that we’re likely to see from Plastic Logic in 2018?
Matt: The main innovations and developments that the industry is likely to see from Plastic Logic in 2018 is the increased use of colour in displays. This is being driven by the demand from retailers, in particular, who are looking for tri-colour displays with increased flexibility to suit shelf-edge label applications.
Q: Which countries / continents are likely to be the biggest adopters of EPD technology in 2018 and why?
Matt: Asia is likely to lead the adoption of EPD technology in 2018, with Asian prospects already dominating market share in smart card applications. Having said that, we believe that the smart card phenomenon will be a global one. The wearables market is slightly different, as we are seeing more demand in Europe than anywhere else.
In the face of crowded markets and tightening competition, designers would be smart to thoroughly consider e-paper technology as a source of differentiation in 2018. Our buyers guide A WORLD WITHOUT GLASS is a useful resource to help you properly assess our technology’s suitability for given use cases, and provide you with inspiration via the trailblazers who are already successfully showcasing the opportunities and rewards achievable through e-paper innovation.