November 11, 2008

KDDI wireless e-Paper display for mobile phones

Original Post from October 15th 2008.

In an interesting move in the area of "Information Surfaces" KDDI has taken a BridgeStone e-Paper display and made a secondary, MUCH LARGER, display for mobile telephones which they call the "Portable Viewer System".

The display has no UI or buttons nor touch, just a power button, and communicates via InfraRed with the mobile phone when placed beside it. Any manipulation or UI is done on the mobile phone.

The display uses BridgeStone's QRLP (Quick Response Liquid Powder) Electrophoretic Display (similar technology, but different, from eInk) Technology. It can display 4,096 colors (see images below of unsaturated reflective color) and is 13.1 inch diagonal and so almost an A/A4 sheetin size.

This makes some color content viewing feasible, and the viewing of larger page-size documents (or smaller fonts/detail - depending on how you look at it) quite feasible.

Here is a side-by-side image of the display along-side (I'm told!) an A4 brochure.

NOTE: This image's aspect ratio has been "squeezed" by the blog system...

One significant downside in my mind is that they state it takes 12 seconds to redraw the entire image on the screen. "Quick Response?" I hear you shout....justifiably.

Well, the Bridgestone display technology has been indeed shown to be pretty quick (faster than E-Ink), so I can only assume that terrible time comes from the combination or Infra-Red transmission and the electronics implemented in the display.

The IrDa technical standard can reach 16Mbits/second (physical layer), and I have seen devices that do 2 or 3 Mbits/sec.

An uncompressed A/A4 image at say 200dpi sub-pixels (remember, this is a monochrome display with RGB color filters on top of a grayscale pixel) with 4 bits/grayscale-pixel (getting 12 color bits or 4,096 colors) would come out to 200 x 8.5 x 200 x 11 pixels = 3.6Mpixels x 4bits/pixel = ....approx 14Mbits.
If the Ir link was as slow as 1Mbits/s that could match.

But, I now remember that this QRLP display is probably passively addressed (not an active matrix like your LCD) and the time maybe the rewrite time for the entire display with the passive addressing.
That would mean they rewrite about 3.6Mpixels / 12 seconds = 311K pixels per second...or about 3.3 micro-seconds per pixel.


They state

"In the finance and insurance areas, there has been a strong need for a tool that can display personal information and other data at an appropriate size while ensuring security of the information."

which I don't find very convincing nor compelling...

Maybe you can now go back and read "War and Peace" on your mobile phone, without going blind in the process?

It's difficult to take a close-up photo of buttons that don't exist, but here's KDDI's attempt:

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