Only a few short decades ago, if you were to describe the concept of electronic paper to someone they would have thought that you had been reading too many science fiction novels.
Electronic paper, also known as e-paper, is a display technology which mimics the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Rather than a backlit display, it reflects light just like ordinary words on a paper page. There is even new e-paper technology which can display different hues. However, the content of the paper can be changed, which allows it to be used in e-readers which store thousands of books on one device.
The e-paper display screen can be read in bright daylight without the image fading like a backlit display does. It is also easier on the eyes and reduces eyestrain when reading for long periods. This technology has already been used in many different capacities, including e-readers, digital signage, electronic billboards and much more.
E-paper technology has already revolutionized the digital book, so what else will this invention bring us in the future?
The Paperless Classroom
One possibility for the future of e-paper is the application within the classroom. The idea of using e-readers in education is something that is currently being tested by teachers. Textbooks are becoming more expensive and school budgets are shrinking, so using e-readers for students to study on is becoming a more popular option.
The electronic paper screen technology means that students can read textbooks, novels and other study materials without eye strain. There are also many classic books and references which can be downloaded for free in electronic form, which will help the school to save money.
Also, e-readers have special features which can help students with their reading skills. For example, the student might be able to put the cursor over an unfamiliar word in a text and have the definition pop up on the screen. This is much easier than looking up the word and will help students to improve their vocabulary as they read.
The classrooms of the future could take full advantage of the educational benefits of e-paper in order to enhance students’ learning.
Electronic Paper Video Screens
Could the future of electronic paper include video? The technology already exists for electronic paper to display video and although these screens are not perfect they are able to play back a video which is smooth, clear and crisp. The technology uses an active matrix bistable nematics to bring down the refresh rates to only 30 milliseconds. This allows for a very seamless playback with a high refresh rate.
The technology also allows the user to draw lines and input text without any time lag, as it is able to refresh part of the screen. This also saves on battery life.
As this technology develops it will become even better and you can just imagine all of the different applications that it could be used for including newspapers, billboards and e-readers. Portable screens could also be a smart phone companion, allowing you to carry around the screen and use it to read the content of your smart phone in a larger format.
Other Possible Future Ideas
Here are some other possible ways that electronic paper could be used in the future:
• It could be tiled for a large scale and used in billboards and posters to create an advertisement which is constantly changing.
• Electronic paper could be used on restaurant menus so that they could be continuously updated.
• Architects could use the technology to create electronic blueprints to use as a reference.
• Electronic paper could be used for maps and navigation tools.
• Consumer products could come in sophisticated product boxes which have animations or scrolling text about the features of the contents.
• E-paper could possibly be used in home décor, allowing you to change the colour of your bedroom walls whenever you desire?
These are just a few of the possibilities that the future might hold for the development of electronic paper technology.
I am Carolina and I love to write about everything tech related that catches my attention. When I am not writing or sitting in front of the PC, I like to be outdoors and take pictures of landscapes.