LG Debuts Flexible E-Paper

LG 19inch Newspaper
Hot on the trail of their CES 2010 announcement to do e-paper, LG shows off a prototype of their flexible e-paper display. Their flexible display is the largest (and perhaps most flexible and bendable) on the market, weighing in at a long 19″ and paper thin. It’s about the size of A3 paper, and it uses metal foil layered over a TFT display, instead of a glass substrate, which allows the image to retain its shape as it bends and warps.

The Technology

The key difference in the LG prototype is the size and the amount of flexibility it retains. It uses a Gate in Panel (GIP) technology, which places the Gate Driver IC into the panel itself, rather than along the spine or the outside of the device. With other flexible e-paper screens, the Gate Driver is placed into the side of the device, and this seriously limits how bendable and flexible it is.

Right now the 19″ prototype is just the e-paper by itself, without any processor, input device or storage. Adding in these different components would make the paper far less flexible and far less like the newspaper format it’s currently trying to mimic. That’s not to say there aren’t any devices already slotted to use this new technology. Quite the contrary.

Planned Devices

The first device we know that will use this technology is Hearst’s Skiff dedicated e-reader, although it’s not quite the full 19″ size of the prototype LG released today.The Skiff’s prototype they had at CES used a full touchscreen technology, and that could easily be integrated with the larger, 19″ model that’s about the size of a normal, print newspaper.

Other devices aren’t yet announced, but we can easily see this being used in lot of different applications, other than e-readers. Since it’s light and flexible, it could be used as wallpaper for rooms, one that is dynamic and could change with a small electronic charge. The same could be done with different bits of apperal, like bags or coats.

The Future

This follows on the heels of LG’s announced partnership Taiwanese display maker, Prime View International. This could only mean that they plan on ramping up production in the e-paper market and charging in full steam ahead. In 2007 LG also showed a prototype (much smaller, with a slower refresh rate) that even used full color. Thin, flexible, full color displays are the wave of the future, and could be used in so many different products, not just with e-readers.

If the refresh rate is decent, we could have truly portable computers that make our current wave of netbooks and slim laptops look like dinosaurs. Computers that roll up, slide into an envelope, not even requiring a case to carry them and protect them. With a water proof coating, these thin computers of the future will be able to withstand anything, and manufacturers like LG are paving the way.

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  1. avatar bali luxury says:

    I want this, too! But I’m afraid it’ll be way too expensive. I’d probably rip it in half like I do my paper newspaper.

  2. avatar Bill Blais says:

    The most sensible approach?

    We need both the Gate in Panel technology, AND
    the wireless download interactivity of Hearst’s Skiff Reader
    in one device.

    Hearst is more on target here, it doesn’t need to be so big,
    if it is interactive enough to enlarge the image when desired.

    We are all spoiled.
    Our favorite devices give us what we want — on demand.

    Make the type and images resizeable instead of making the
    device too big ( Hearst’s Skiff is large enough at 11.5″ ).

  3. avatar Roy Stedall says:

    Well, let’s see. Talking as a none technical person the Hearst Skiff device certainly is the way forward. Just imagine a flexy the size of a paperback; 13 cm x 20 cm closed which could be opened up as you would with a normal paperback with a page both sides. You would then close up the Flexy eReader and put it in your pocket for easy carriage and portability …..I’m certain that, that would be a certain winner. Let’s see how long it will take some go-ahead whiz-kid to do that!
    P.S. It’s probably already on the drawing board.

  4. avatar Phil Keane says:

    I agree with both Roy and Bill - in a way. While the large newspaper may not be needed, I like the previewing effect of book, where you can see the next page and glance at the upcoming content. To limit ourselves to a one-page e-book/e-document seems restrictive. Why not have a semi-portable and semi-flexible device that opens up to a two-A4 sized double page? That would be more manageable, but keep the previewing effect of a book. As an educator, I think the “tech” world needs to pay more attention to the act of reading in various genres and formats - novels and books, newspapers, magazines. They should also look into the psychology behind having a book, newspaper, or magazine in our hands. What is it we enjoy about having a paper book? How can we avoid the plastic world sensation of holding some mini-computer? I am drawn to the flexible e-paper as it removes some of the rigidity of the e-paper formats.

  5. avatar Mark says:

    A book of some 15-30 or so pages of epaper with all the funcionality of a computer/smartphone/e-reader is my dream machine. Includes an optional external keyboard.

  6. avatar Murdoch Stays in the Game with iPad’s The Daily | Nextekis says:

    [...] may not be accessing it on an iPad or even a tablet for that matter—interactive e-paper comes to mind as this technology begins to promise true innovation—but no doubt they will be [...]

  7. avatar jon says:

    The size is write the bigger the better for other applications, blue prints etc. for construction work, would be a good example we only like the small device because we can’t fold it up, this can nicely roll up into a tube, great! finally a larger map or reading surface, I hate scrolling around on my ipad all the time to read an article.

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