eInk is the leading supplier of electronic paper display technology. This e- Ink technology enables displays which are high contrast, thin, light weight, viewable from all angles and able to operate with dramatically less energy than more traditional LCD / TFT screens.
eInk is used in combination with epaper.
The newest generation ebook readers, like the BeBook, are based on electronic paper, or epaper, on which the text and pictures are displayed by electronic ink - eInk.
There are different kinds of electronic paper. In the current technology the paper is made of a thin layer (coating) of conductive synthetic material. The coating contains millions of capsules filled with oil, with floating black and white pigment parts in it. These pigment parts react to an electrical load. Under the tension, the capsules turn black or white, just like ink dots on paper. By varying the tension, grey color can be made.
An important characteristic of ePaper is that the consition of the capsules does not change as long as there is no difference in tension. To put it differently: the text or the image will remain on the electronic paper, even when the ebook reader is switched off. On some ebook readers, people can read thousands of pages on one battery load.
A second important characteristic is that there is no need for background lighting to look at the picture. Just like with normal paper, it is necessary to use an external lighting source to be able to read. This results in a less effort to read from an ebook reader, than for example a PC monitor. Plus, since the ereader is based on reflection of daylight just like paper, the e-reader screen is perfectly readable in sunlight.
Electronic paper was developed in the seventies by Xerox, in the nineties the principle of electrically loaded balls turning under influence of tension and therefore showing either a black or white side, was improved by Joseph Jacobson. He developed microcapsules, filled with electronically loaded white parts that were dissolved in a dark colored oil. In 1997 Jacobson funded the company E Ink to develop the invention commercially. It was further developed into bulbs containing black and white parts in a transparent oil.
Parallel to the development of electronic ink, the first ebook readers appeared. The first were based on the ‘traditional' lcd technology and were therefore not appropriate to read for a long time. Plus, the readers experienced strong competition from the pda (colored screens).
In April 2004, Sony announced the first commercial available electronic paper device. This is currently succeeded by the Sony Reader. The Netherlands followed in 2006 with the launch of iLiad, from iRex, a spin-off of the famous company Philips.
Electronic paper is the way out for people who read a lot off their screen. But there are also big expectations on the field of replacing printed (news)paper, (school)books and manuals.
Advantages of the ebook reader are, besides a handy, light size, the large storage capacity and the fast and easy adaptation of the content. Additional advantage is that some models have the option to make notes that can be transformed into printed text.
most recent development is Vizplex, eInk displays that are equipped with this technology have an even greater contrast and the pages can be switched faster. Vizplex is also suitable for larger screens. The first A4 ebook reader will be introduced soon.
Another promising development of electronic paper is the flexible e-paper. Philips spin-off Polymer Vision presented in 2007 a first commercial utilization of flexible electronic paper in the form of the Readius, a smartphone with foldable screen. This makes it possible to equip a small device with a relatively large screen.
The Readius will have GSM technology, just like the Kindle of Amazon. This makes it possible to download wireless through networks of mobile operators. Then you can read the latest news or purchase ebooks anytime, without intervention of a pc.
ePaper versus ePaper
The indication ‘ePaper' is used in English to indicate the digital edition of a newspaper. This is essentially a different concept than the technical interpretation of the word ‘ePaper'. On this site, ePaper is used in the technical interpretation. The same goes for the word ‘eBook'. To prevent confusion, the word eBook is used for an information unity or a digital document. The hardware on which one can read eBooks is called eBook reader or e-reader.