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Old 09-21-2006, 08:57 AM   #1
pdam
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Competition for e-Ink

The BBC have an interesting article on a copper alloy flexible display being developed out of Cambridge ... for those interested - the article can be found below.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5366534.stm
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:24 AM   #2
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Now that's interesting!.... foldup laptop displays. I had been thinking primarily about pdas, smart phones, e-book readers, etc.
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Old 09-21-2006, 08:42 PM   #3
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I agree, E Ink is not all that shines. The company takes an aweful lot of time to get started and they are dealing with only one product. I don't think they have much time left before other companies steals E Ink the show ;(
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Old 09-22-2006, 09:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TadW
I agree, E Ink is not all that shines. The company takes an aweful lot of time to get started and they are dealing with only one product. I don't think they have much time left before other companies steals E Ink the show ;(

To be fair, I don't think the delays with the various readers are the fault of the e-ink corporation. They've had their technology for a long time, and even improvements to it. It's the companies that license the tech from them that are delaying products... and then there are all the companies *not* licensing tech from them (...Apple iReader... Mmmm...)

The eink readers are frustratingly slow in coming out, I agree, but I don't think that's E-Ink, Inc's fault.
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Old 09-23-2006, 11:39 AM   #5
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I don't think Apple is ready for readers, they may have traded that market with Sony as some kind of business deal. Otherwise, because of their experience with Newton, they would have hopped in the bandwagon a long time ago.
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Old 09-25-2006, 04:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bingle
The eink readers are frustratingly slow in coming out, I agree, but I don't think that's E-Ink, Inc's fault.
I can see several reasons why E Ink technology hasn't picked up yet:
  • E-books is still an emerging market and needs more time to develop
  • Signage business is a mature market with many competitors and substitute products
  • Display manufacturers are not willing to set up special assembly lines to convert ink sheets into individual display cells
  • Chicken-and-egg problem: E Ink needs revenues to fund R&D process, but customers are not inclined to sign contracts until the technology is fully proven
  • Inability to handle high-volume production as demand surges
  • Internal R&D problems - high cash drain, no short-term income - led to staff reductions in the past
  • 2004 E Ink CEO left the company and half the board resigned
  • Technical problems (some in the past): Ink too slow and not bright enough, bad performance under high temperatures and humidity, unstable yields from batch to batch, inconsistent coatings, laminations had bubbles
  • Licensing and ink-manufacturing business with only limited amount of revenue - downstream customers like Sony generate the lion's share of revenue
  • E Ink focused purely on Sony for some time and turned away other inquiries
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:01 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic
I can see several reasons why E Ink technology hasn't picked up yet:
  • E-books is still an emerging market and needs more time to develop
  • Signage business is a mature market with many competitors and substitute products
  • Display manufacturers are not willing to set up special assembly lines to convert ink sheets into individual display cells
  • Chicken-and-egg problem: E Ink needs revenues to fund R&D process, but customers are not inclined to sign contracts until the technology is fully proven
  • Inability to handle high-volume production as demand surges
  • Internal R&D problems - high cash drain, no short-term income - led to staff reductions in the past
  • 2004 E Ink CEO left the company and half the board resigned
  • Technical problems (some in the past): Ink too slow and not bright enough, bad performance under high temperatures and humidity, unstable yields from batch to batch, inconsistent coatings, laminations had bubbles
  • Licensing and ink-manufacturing business with only limited amount of revenue - downstream customers like Sony generate the lion's share of revenue
  • E Ink focused purely on Sony for some time and turned away other inquiries

I wonder why the CEO and half the board resigned..
Hmm
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Old 09-25-2006, 11:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogsmasha
I wonder why the CEO and half the board resigned..
Hmm
I think they had a tough year back then. They shut down development on Ink in Motion, canceled a watch contract, and focused 100% of management and technical attention on delivering E Ink to Sony (-> Sony Librie).

They did this to reduce the cash burn and stick to producing ink and managing only one supply chain (Sony). The plan called for Sony to ship the Librie in May 2004, about six weeks after E Ink would have gone broke. The problem: By the end of 2003, the function of the alpha and beta E Ink products had been generally approved by Sony, but technical and quality issues remained that needed to be solved before Sony would purchase the product. So cash would run out before the displays could be shipped, and without a shipping product, E Ink faced a difficult task to raise additional investments.

As a result Jim Iuliano and various board members resigned, and Russ Wilcox became the new CEO, who managed to get from a majority of private E Ink investors an additional $11m - enough for E Ink to remain solvent for almost another year.

After that things worked better thanks to Sony's delivery of the Librie and E Ink's fostering relationship to Japanese Toppan.
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander Turcic
Signage business is a mature market with many competitors and substitute products
And for this market, eInk is a disruptive technology.

Imagine how much they will lose when stores no longer have to print price tags and signs every time the price changes.
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Old 09-25-2006, 02:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rlauzon
...when stores no longer have to print price tags and signs every time the price changes.
Can you imagine picking up a product to look at it and then glance down at the price tag going right before your eyes: $159.99.... $169.99.... $179.99... !!!

But I've seen LCD price tags on shoes at a clothing store locally. They were a little klunky and looked a little like a pillbox. I suppose the price could be changed remotely, but they really would have looked a lot nicer with e-ink. Even better if the little plastic tags on shelfs like at walmart and grocery stores were replaced by built-in, remotely updated, e-ink displays that look like paper. That makes so much more sense than current systems for price labeling.
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Old 09-25-2006, 04:21 PM   #11
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Here're some more ....

I don't think we've seen these before.

Fuji-Xerox: article, photo

And here are a couple from Hitachi: grayscale and color
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Old 09-25-2006, 04:36 PM   #12
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That color one makes you look forward toward future days of poster or painting-sized color displays that can replace typical artwork on your wall!
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:03 PM   #13
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Imagine a 1 inch by 100 foot e-ink display for grocery stores, all tied in with cash registers and Rfid tags. The store keeper puts an item on the shelf and it's price and info immediately come to the e-ink display!
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Old 09-25-2006, 05:55 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell
Can you imagine picking up a product to look at it and then glance down at the price tag going right before your eyes: $159.99.... $169.99.... $179.99... !!!

But I've seen LCD price tags on shoes at a clothing store locally. They were a little klunky and looked a little like a pillbox. I suppose the price could be changed remotely, but they really would have looked a lot nicer with e-ink. Even better if the little plastic tags on shelfs like at walmart and grocery stores were replaced by built-in, remotely updated, e-ink displays that look like paper. That makes so much more sense than current systems for price labeling.
Yes, I remember those. I work for a large local retailer and I remember when we were playing with those shelf tags. We are now moving to "shelf strips" (imagine all those shelf tags on one long strip that does on the shelf lip) which is getting closer to what eInk technology can do.
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Old 10-28-2006, 02:58 PM   #15
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Has this issue been addressed in other threads:

As cool as e-ink is, and clunky and heavy as paper books & posters are,

Books are pulped trees that can, to an extent, be re-used and their base material (trees) can be replenished.

From what I understand, most poylmers are some form of plastic, made from fossilised plant and animal remains long ago, with little to no way to replenish.

For all the tauting of not cutting down trees, is it such a good idea to use so much oil?

I'm not opposed to progress, do not think that oil companies are 'evil, &tc, but I simply wonder about the viability of the technology. Will concede that commercial printing these days propably involves all manner of nasty, toxic chemicals.

Just wanted to play devil's advocate.
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