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Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Doctor Q, Oct 20, 2004.
The latest demo of what might be our future electronic paper.
I love to see progress in the area of epaper. I think this technology is going to lead the next major shift in computing, comparable to the rise of the internet. We'll begin to finally reap the benefits of a paperless society. Once we have perfected a medium like this for displaying information, we'll finally get to the point where we literally don't need books.
The results of such a world could indeed be very significant. I've blogged about it several times,
here, here, and here.
I'd be very interested to hear what MR readers think of all this.
If we are going to run out of oil in the future, it would seem that they should find something else than plastic for this project. Unless they can find another way to make plastic.
Speaking as someone with a 20-year career investment in commercial printing....BOOOOOO!!
Seriously, this could revolutionize POP displays and advertising, just to look at one area. Imagine having a thin LCD mounted on the side of the bus as it rolls down the street, showing a series of product ad's, or even a very short video (2-3 seconds or so). Up to the minute news flashes on billboards and on signs hanging in shop windows.
Do we live in exciting times, or what?
That's a question of when, not if, but it's true that paper is plentiful. I think the very first mouse was made of wood, so why not the rest of the computer? Maybe we should make computer cases out of wood instead of metal!
This particular project, however, is about replacing glass with plastic, not paper with plastic.
There are a host of renewable-resource plastics already in development or actually in production, mostly based on plant extracts from raw materials like corn and maize, I don't know if any of them are transparent, but I believe the real factor is simply cost of extracting raw material versus the currently "cheap" oil based raw material.
So its coming, once the price point is right.
Some of them are bio-degradeable as well, which is even better.
So those annoying cereal packets and milk cartons that play bright happy wake-up! animations then go straight in the bin are right around the corner!
Plastic can be made without using direct petroleum products. Even if it weren't, plastic recycling will be very important soon, and it does recycle well.
Philips Labs has been demoing some epaper for a while now, it's monotone but that probably makes it cheaper... they have full-size sheets now. Still working on technicals, but I believe it's already showing primitive use in consumer products. They also demoed printable LCDs, another important piece of this field... Which HP already has in the bag, they are currently experimenting with inkjet technology in big ways. Medication delivery, textiles, printable electronics and perhaps one day 3D models and biological tissue (they think they can print a body part or organ, one layer at a time). I think HP is going to have a huge command of this field when it breaks, and I see them moving more towards that than PCs. Should be interesting.
Maybe milk cartons will use WiFi to connect to the net and show the latest "Have you seen me?" missing child photo on the side each morning when you get it out to pour on your Cap'n Crunch.
I can hear future librarians now: Would you like that in paper or plastic?
If I can't write naughty messages on it without ruining it, I'll stick with paper.
According to this web site (for kids--the first site I could find with decent numbers), only 18 percent of petroleum is used for "other products" -- i.e. non-fuel uses. I think fuel is a much bigger problem in terms of how much petroleum we use. Also, as someone else indicated, plastic is recyclable, so this use of plastic isn't going to be as burdensome on the environment as fossil fuels.
Regarding Dr. Q's point, I do think e-paper has the potential to replace not just glass, but also paper, because e-paper will be used in places that glass monitors are not currently used.
The bigger impact of this technology is that it will open up publishing to the masses: once e-book readers become affordable, joe average will be able so self-publish a readable book for a fraction of the cost of a professional publisher. So the dynamics of publishing will change dramatically.
Also, think about the applications in advertising. Imagine google-style customized ads literally everywhere you go. I'm not sure this is necessarily a good thing, but that's where it's headed. The impact of e-paper is going to be collossal.
I agree, the whole book/article publishing business will undergo a radical change because of e-book readers, once they are done right. It will enable every author to publish their work to a broad audience without relying on a private publishing company. The only real question becomes how to let people know your work is available. Publishers not only drive manufacturing, but also advertising. Will authors have to rely on search engines, or will places like Amazon use their data to make recommendations to potential consumers, for a small fee?
Advertising is another area that drastically changes, in ways we can't fully imagine yet. That milk carton reference in this post is not as far out as it may seem, I'd wager. Converging technologies are potentially going to make todays targeted direct mail seem quite archaic by comparison. Forget receiving a packet of coupons in the mail based on your grocery purchases last month, that's small time stuff. Flexible LCD signs that replace static paper billboards, combined with the mass introduction of chips embedded in consumer purchases like shoes, jackets, and small electronics, as well as the advancement of smart chip technology in credit and ID cards, might make scenes from sci-fi movies a reality in the next 10-15 years. Imagine walking down the street past an advert, and your passage triggers a video targeted to you, based on the smart chip in your credit card that says where you like to shop, and another one woven into your jacket that says it is five years old. Suddenly, the ad is all about a sale on men's jackets at Sears. Crazy, maybe...I mean who would buy a jacket at Sears?
Okay, I just did a blog entry about this:
A world made of cuttlefish
Fascinating indeed. I enjoyed your blog entry, and left a comment for you. I'll check out more when I get some time, hopefully this weekend.
As exciting as this potential is, security is a big concern. All this personal data floating around. I know the risk is already there, and has been for some time, but this is a whole new playing field.