Save paper, go virtual

Gartner believes this energy efficient initiative is the way of the future

The use of electronic paper, also known as ‘e-paper’, is increasing as a result of its ultra low power consumption, a similar user experience to real paper and ‘green’ benefits, according to a new report from Gartner Inc.

E-paper is a display medium intended to mimic the appearance or ordinary ink on paper while being rewritable.  Gartner said that despite disadvantages of poor colour and refresh rate characteristics, e-paper will have significant benefits over other display media and will positively impact the traditional paper market, the retail display sector, a number of consumer markets and the office environment in years to come.

“E-paper does have has some barriers to overcome before gaining credibility with the mainstream market,” said SJ Chae, senior research director at Gartner.  “However, it is generating a great deal of interest and we expect adoption to increase steadily over the next few years as the technology improves.”

E-paper also has the advantage of providing a similar user experience to real paper display.  Its thinness gives users the benefits of a portable, paper-thin rewritable display while its readability in bright sunlight gives a similar user experience to that of reading a paper display.

According to Gartner, low power consumption is the main driver for e-paper adoption in most cases and this is enabling initial applications in signage (for retail and roadside applications), static displays (e-books) and small information-centric screens.

Despite these benefits, there are a number of disadvantages to e-paper that must be overcome in order for it to gain more widespread adoption.  Overall, e-paper content is limited and the current colour capabilities of e-paper displays are poor.  E-paper is also typically weak in its handling of moving images and a compromise must be found between the requirements for full-motion video and low power consumption.

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Save paper, go virtual