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Old 08-20-2013, 08:44 AM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Forget about batteries. Use NFC to power your next E Ink display!

Apparently NFC technology is not only convenient for mobile electronic payments, but you can also use it to energize an ultra-low power, bistable E Ink display. A team of researchers demonstrated how you could use NFC to transfer documents from your handset to a E Ink display with a single tap.

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The inclusion of NFC isn't to simply push data to the display. The team, lead by Alanson Sample, have succeeded in wirelessly powering the display through an NFC transaction with an Android phone.

NFC uses inductive coupling to provide power to passive tags. The NFC E-ink display takes advantage of this through its use of a wireless power harvester microchip to store the energy from an NFC transaction in a 0.17mm thick 1mAh battery. This energy is then used to power and update the device's 2.7" display, with enough excess energy captured from the NFC transaction to allow for cycling of images when away from the phone.
Check out the following video for some hands-on action.



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Old 08-20-2013, 09:25 AM   #2
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Cool! Now if they could use it to power the secondary display for phones/tablet, I can finally leave my ereader at home. I have a feeling that someone will come out with an Eink cover for NFC enabled phone in no time.
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Old 08-20-2013, 05:55 PM   #3
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What is NFC?
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:06 PM   #4
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Near Field Communication - as described in the first sentence of the video...
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:52 PM   #5
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I'm at work...can't watch videos.

And to be honest, I prefer to read articles than watch videos, given the option.

EDITED TO ADD: But thanks for letting me know what the acronym stands for. I probably would have forgotten I wanted to know by the time I get home tonight.
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Old 08-20-2013, 07:54 PM   #6
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Near Field Communication - as described in the first sentence of the video...
Or, slightly more verbose, it's a very short range standard for data transmission using radio communication. Short range here means just a few centimetres (you guys using that archaic imperial system can work out what this means in your free time).
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Old 08-20-2013, 10:01 PM   #7
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This is a neat trick but it's not exactly new.

E-ink demoed a similar idea a couple years ago. British Airways is using similar tech for their luggage tags. And a European startup called Mpico is working on several different systems which use the same basic beamed power idea to make smart cards, shipping labels, and luggage tags.

Edit: Those other examples don't use NFC, though. They use some type of proprietary RFID.

What's the difference? RFID is an older and well established standard which is a close relative of NFC. It can work over longer distances (5 to 10 feet), while NFC is a newer still a fledgling standard that has a distance limitation measured in inches.

Last edited by Nate the great; 08-21-2013 at 08:11 AM.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:04 AM   #8
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I'm really not at all sure it's correct to call NFC a "fledgling standard". It's extremely widely used in, for example, the "contactless payment" system that's now built-in to virtually all European credit cards allowing people to pay small amounts by just tapping the card on the reader.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:09 AM   #9
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I am not an expert but I remember to have read that NFC has much wider capabilities than RFID but I could be wrong.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:10 AM   #10
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I'm really not at all sure it's correct to call NFC a "fledgling standard". It's extremely widely used in, for example, the "contactless payment" system that's now built-in to virtually all European credit cards allowing people to pay small amounts by just tapping the card on the reader.
I guess the articles I read were out of date.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:20 PM   #11
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I am not an expert but I remember to have read that NFC has much wider capabilities than RFID but I could be wrong.
The official RFID standard is merely a read standard, while NFC can do read/write, device syncing, and possibly even more as time goes by.

But NFC is also limited to only a few inches.
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Old 08-21-2013, 01:44 PM   #12
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But NFC is also limited to only a few inches.
Very deliberately. In the case of the contactless payment system I mentioned for credit cards, the payment terminal deliberately uses very low power so that only the buyer's card is affected.
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:34 PM   #13
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Haven't there be claims that NFC has inadvertently worked over greater distances, resulting in the wrong accounts/cards being affected?
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:41 PM   #14
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Yes, there was a case I saw recently where a customer at M&S had the card in her bag debited rather than the card she used in the machine.
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Old 08-21-2013, 02:43 PM   #15
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I'd rather a solar powered e ink display.
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