The UN has recently unveiled what is believed to be the world’s largest E-paper sign, which effectively covers an entire wall and ably demonstrates the effectiveness of ‘tiling’ a series of e-paper panels.
The wall was created at the UN headquarters in New York and is constructed of 231 tiles. The wall was the result of a collaboration of three companies specialising in the development of e-paper - MpicoSys, Pervasive Displays and E Inks. It provides delegates with scheduling, news and other information, conveyed by high-resolution, large-scale images. When the system is turned off, the wall resorts to a plain white, making it unobtrusive.
The tiles are 7.4” square and arranged in a grid pattern of 33 x 7. The wall has an overall resolution of 26,400x3,360 pixels and is currently the largest E Ink-based ePaper display in the world. However, as with all e-ink based products, it actually requires very little power to operate. The technology is similar to that used in Amazon's Kindle e-readers, and could represent a whole new concept in the use of interior spaces in commercial buildings.
The UN wall has ably demonstrated how effectively e-paper can be applied to unusual situations. Previously restricted to use in e-readers, companies such as Plastic Logic are now exploring new ways in which e-paper can be used. However, up until now, the idea of e-paper as an interior design medium hadn’t really been explored. The UN wall proves that it can and does work, and the wall has certainly garnered considerable support.
Not only does it provide a flexible medium with which to work, but it is also energy efficient, making it a reusable resource that won’t drain a business’s budget. Imagine how effectively an e-paper wall could be used in a whole range of situations, without the need for bulky signage or static, single-usage displays. The potential for e-walls is considerable, and already some major financial institutions are looking into the possibility of taking the concept and running with it on their trading floors, for example
One of the biggest stumbling blocks has been the development of colour screens, and although hues are still somewhat muted, progress is being made. Plastic Logic’s CEO Indro Mukerjee explains it succinctly: “Plastic Logic’s development of a colour flexible plastic display is particularly significant, since the same process could enable unbreakable, flexible display solutions with other media such as LCD and OLED."
The technology is moving apace, and research experts such as Plastic Logic believe that it won’t be long before e-paper has the capability to deliver a wide range of full-colour options. What designers and interior stylists now need to do is embrace e-paper as both a functional tool for commercial spaces, and potentially a very effective design concept that could revolutionise the way we see and relate to interior spaces.
For commercial (and in particular power-aware ‘green’ buildings’) e-walls represent a new way of presenting their business. But even in domestic surroundings, e-walls could be the next big trend in high-tech design, and could pave the way to a whole new world of visual stimulation.
Verena blogs about gadgets and technology, covering everything from the latest mobile advancements to display technology. When she’s not online Verena enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling the world.