E-ink technology is easier on the eyes for reading, even if the devices it’s currently deployed in feel nothing like a book or magazine. But AU Optronics gives us another tantalising look at the future with a proof of concept e-reader that’s completely self-powered, while still as flexible as a piece of paper.
Part of the reason your Kindle can’t bend, at least easily, is all the ancillary electronics needed to connect to a Wi-Fi network, store and process the digital content and of course, that battery. But with their Un-plugged Flexible E-paper Display, AUO has sandwiched a flexible organic TFT display to a thin-film photovoltaic battery to create a self-powered e-reader that can be bent and twisted just like a piece of paper.
We’re assuming it’s not as capable as the Kindle in its current form, but it does boast a six-inch SVGA display and manages to free itself from the oppressive restrictions of a bulky battery. That is, as long as you use it in direct sunlight. Unfortunately when used indoors the efficiency of the battery’s photovoltaics aren’t quite at the point where the e-ink display can be operated without an external power source.
The technology behind this prototype has already been implemented in simpler devices, like a watch that only needs to keep track of and display the time. But since its flexible nature mostly comes as a result of it being so thin, it also has the potential to slim down any device it’s used in. From phones, to tablets, to e-readers, which could eventually recreate the experience of folding or rolling a magazine or newspaper.