Intel has recently invested in an electronic paper company.
This is one technology we’ve haven’t spoken about yet, but it’s one that will have huge impact in the not-that-far away future.
Just what is electronic paper? It’s something that displays electronic images (like a CRT or LCD) while having many of the same properties as regular paper (for instance, you can bend, fold, and roll it, try doing that with your CRT or LCD).
The initial use will be in mobile devices, where the “paper” can be rolled out when needed, and rolled back into the device when not.
Obviously, this will have a lot more uses than that eventually: everything from electronic billboards to featherweight big monitors.
New Specs Coming
When the technology becomes ready for the desktop, the advantages of electronic paper over LCD/CRTs won’t just be weight and flexibility and low power consumption. E-paper offers (slightly) better resolution today, and probably a lot more tomorrow.
In a field where specs improve all the time, mainstream monitors haven’t gotten much better at resolution. Typical maximum resolution of your mainstream monitor is about 100dpi, which is much less than ideal for high-quality graphics or even highly-readable text (in comparison, a 35mm slide packs about 4000 dpi). It’s possible to make higher-resolution displays, but the cost becomes prohibitive.
Electronic paper offers the opportunity to eventually allow for much higher resolutions without a much higher price tag, which should greatly benefit everyone, from readers to X-ray technicians to the most important group of all, gamers. 🙂
Granted, the electronic display described above is in just black and white, and has a screen display of just 320X240, but it’s a useful start. The sort of WOW screens I’ve been describing will probably show up in 2010-2015, so don’t start checking out Newegg for one yet.
Nonetheless, Phillip’s announcement along with Intel’s investment shows that electronic paper has moved from speculative blue-sky exploration, and has gone from being an “if” to a “when” technology.