An electronic paper display with wireless connectivity and touch screen technology that threatens to revolutionize the publishing industry is to be launched on the market in 2006 at a price in the range of 400 to 450 euros ($475 to $535).
The device, with an 8.1 inch display and 16 grey levels, will be available by April for distribution to business partners from Eindhoven, Netherlands-based iRex Technologies BV.
iRex, a spin-off from Royal Philips Electronics NV now backed by major equity investors, claims it offers the first complete solution for portable electronic reading and writing.
iRex is already in negotiations with potential customers, and CEO Hans Brons told ComputerWire the device would only be a success if it is brought to market in close contact with content. Content can be downloaded from the internet, a PC, or flash memory cards, and can capture user input. Potential customers are those offering news services, educational content, and professional publishers. In newspapers, for example, Brons said it has the potential to break the 24-hour publishing cycle because content can be constantly updated.
The paperless office has always been a dream because with conventional displays the screen is being refreshed several times a second, which is tiring on the eyes. By contrast, electronic paper display technology from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based E Ink Inc is based on white and black particles having a different electronic charge, giving the viewer the experience of reading from paper. The only time the screen is refreshed is when a page is turned.
iRex had been working on the project with E Ink since 2001 but the conglomerate has become fearful of the risks of frontline technology and sold the company to venture capitalists last year.
It does retain ownership of Polymer Vision, which is using the same technology and aims to be in volume production by the end of 2006 with a rollable display that could transform mobile devices by giving users access to a five-inch screen whenever it is needed.