At last: e-paper that’s actually like paper

Video: E Ink Shows Off Rollable, Scrunchable, and Video Screens | Popular Science

These demos show that e-ink displays can be embedded into other materials–the video below shows it sewn right into a bit of Tyvex cloth, the super-tough, paper-like cloth used in shipping envelopes.

It’s easy to see the uses for that kind of thing: Envelopes could be sturdy and reusable, with shippers simply changing the shipping address on the screen rather than tossing the envelopes.

This makes me happy, but what I particularly want to see is the next step: e-ink displays where most of the driver electronics have been separated from the display. Because for the kinds of e-ink applications they’re talking about, you don’t want the display changing a lot, and you don’t want just anybody to be able to change it. For instance, you don’t want the routing or delivery folks at the shipping company to be able to change the label…

Figuring out the right partitioning for this kind of thing is difficult; maybe you could have some kind of scrambling section that would reroute all the rows and columns according to a key known only by authorized people. Or maybe real crypto somewhere. Or just something that measured how much current had been passed through the drivers and encoded it with some kind of checksum…

But none of that is necessary for what I want: a pile of e-paper and a printer that will erase and reprint each sheet whenever I want, so that I can spread out as much reference material as I can see, just like I used to be able to do with books.

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