Simply called Paper, Braun’s prototype uses a 31.2-inch monochromatic E Ink panel instead of colour to preserve a lo-fi aesthetic, and because its enormous size comes close to matching the size of the print edition of the New York Times when unfolded.
Compared to an electronic book reader like the Amazon Kindle, Paper features bare-bones functionality; there’s no touchscreen, no backlight, and no option to view anything other than the newspaper’s front page. If you want to read more, you’ll need to grab a different device, or find a physical copy of the paper.
So that the eye focuses on the content of the newspaper itself, which is easily legible thanks to the E Ink panel’s 2560 x 1440 resolution, the Paper skips a frame or bezel and instead leaves the display completely exposed, including components like flexible copper cables that are usually hidden away in devices destined for consumers.
Because E Ink panels aren’t rigid, Braun did create a support panel for the Paper. But instead of using lightweight materials like aluminium, or even a 3D-printed creation made from plastic, he opted for Portland cement, lightened with titanium dioxide and embedded with a wire mesh to improve its strength and durability.
The concrete backing panel also features a hollow centre giving Braun a place to hide both the E Ink panel’s system board, and a wi-fi antenna, which allows the Paper to automatically download a PDF edition of the New York Times early each morning, and then convert the front page into an image file it can display.
There’s one other thing that separates Braun’s Paper display from devices like the Kindle. While you can get an ebook reader from Amazon for just over $100, E Ink’s 31.2-inch poster-sized panel costs $US1,500 ($2,359), plus the cost of additional components (and concrete) to make it function autonomously. You can probably figure out how to build your own and even customise it for your hometown’s paper, but don’t expect Braun to start manufacturing and selling these en masse.