November 11, 2008

Ohio Reflective and Bistable

Original Post from November 3rd 2008.

Kent Displays in Ohio, US, has recently made announcements based on progress in their Cholesteric LCD display research. One such article from can be found here.

Basically they announce two things:

  • Flexible display manufacturing (or at least advanced prototyping) of their ChLCD display technology.
  • Creation of a color-changing coating (~= "display") for consumer electronic devices such as phones etc.

Not sure if it's just election-fever, or if this web typically takes this stance, but the article is quite big on the fact they are/plan to manufacture in the US. I'll try and stick to the product and technology aspects of the news.

Kent have been researching and making Cholesteric LCD displays for some time. These are reflective, bi-stable displays, thus they display images via the reflected light and don't need a back-light or light emission that consumes power. Further, being bi-stable they don't need to be refreshed and hence can display information when switched of, with power only required to change the image.

Now they announce a 320 by 160 pixel, flexible display that (quote) "lends itself to all sorts of applications that you haven't seen before.".

They are a bit short on examples of those new applications, so we'll leave that as an exercise for the reader....

Also they have furthered their research in color films to produce a (quote) "paper thin, electronic skin for cell phones and mobile devices that allow consumers to change colors with the touch of a finger. The "eGo" skin uses no power to maintain any color already rendered on the surface." a prototype of which is shown below.
HINT to marketeers......when you announce something that changes or moves.... post video, not stills!

This is an interesting area from the product design, industrial design and fashion standpoint and one where E Ink is also active (see previous posts). We should expect to see in the future these "morphing" products where appearances change, and the boundaries between product and display and decoration all get blurred. Not only could you change the color of your phone to match your clothing or preferences, but it could change its own color based on some paramter.... just imaging it glowing red hot when you have lots of e-mails or missed calls for example.

The REAL NEWS is contained in the phrase "Kent Displays now has a roll-to-roll machine that is capable of producing millions of plastic displays per year." which indicated they are making progress towards being able to manufacture such technologies with roll-to-roll processes and they claim they will enter production in January.
I'll keep an eye open for more extensive coverage of these Kent advances.

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