E Ink Corp exhibited some of the prototypes and products co-developed with partner firms in its booth at FPD International 2007.
Three cutting-edge products are particularly striking: a front light for electronic paper, a wristwatch with an e-paper face and e-paper integrated with a flexible TFT substrate.
E-paper is a reflective display. So, its visibility decreases when the ambient light is insufficient. E Ink's front light is designed to tackle this problem.
"For some applications, users insist on using e-paper in the dark," E Ink said.
The front light was developed by Alps Electric Co Ltd. It has a structure similar to the front light used in LCD panels, although its design was optimized for e-paper by "finely adjusting the prism angle," Alps Electric said.
The wristwatch with an e-paper face was reportedly developed by Art Tech, a US-Hong Kong joint venture. By switching over the display on the watch face, users can enjoy various face patterns. The product is slated for release in December 2007.
The e-paper integrated with a flexible TFT substrate is a 9.7-inch display featuring a resolution of 1200 x 820. The substrate was manufactured by Prime View International Co Ltd of Taiwan. The flexibility is provided by forming the TFT on polyimide.
Specifically, the product was manufactured by placing a polyimide substrate on a glass substrate, forming the TFT on the resultant substrate and then removing the glass substrate. Mass production is scheduled for the second quarter of 2008.
E Ink is promoting the development of flexible active-matrix e-paper by combining it with the flexible TFT substrates developed by several manufacturers including LG Philips LCD Co Ltd of Korea and Plastic Logic Ltd of UK, in addition to Prime View International.
The products equipped with these substrates will all be available for volume shipment in 2008. Therefore, active-matrix e-paper is expected to flood the market in 2008.