E Ink displays are an attractive way of displaying information that doesn’t change by the second: they don’t use much power, are easy to read in variable lighting, and happen to be relatively affordable. Now, they’re finding use not just in handheld devices, though — but on the streets of Sydney, Australia.
The Australian Road and Maritime Services has rolled out the first large-scale deployment of E Ink signage on the city’s streets. Each sign is connected to central government authority servers via 3G so that they can be updated over-the-air at any time, and they’re lit to ensure that they’re readable at night. They’re also solar powered, which provides enough juice to keep them running — though they do have a power supply in case they run low, especially when they need to be updated.
The clear advantage, of course, is the flexibility they offer: instead of temporary signage or new signs when rules change, the city can simply send a message to the relevant signs to update and show the correct information. That should make for large civic saving and a better experience for citizens on the footpaths, too.
Visionect, the company that produces the signs, reckons that the inclusion of proximity, temperature and other sensors could make the signs even smarter in future. But for now, the street signs in Sydney are at least a little more flexible.