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E-paper - Accretions

Fata Morgana
2005-07-30 00:48
E-paper
Public
One big benefit of Google are the technical talks - in this way the Google campus feels a lot like a college campus. Thursday I saw a talk by Joseph Jacobsen from MIT Media Lab on e-paper. I remember reading about e-paper in magazines 10 or more years ago, and finding the idea absolutely fascinating, but haven't heard much about it since then outside of Neal Stephenson's nanotech dystopia and other science fiction. But here are working prototypes - printed e-ink and even transistors - that can be cut, punctured, crumpled, and powered down and still show text or images, even color, up to 50 frames a second.

The talk was mostly focused on the technology and fabrication process, but most of the questions involved applications and social implications. Can you make solar cells? (Yes.) What about digital ink pens? (Yes.) What are the environmental impacts? (E-ink is made of titanium dioxide and carbon, which is what paper is made of anyway. The printed chips were first made of cadmium selenide, and now are made of pure silicon.) When can I buy something with this in it? (Soon a bunch of things will be coming out. In Tokyo, you can buy Dynavision ebooks now; they'll be in the US the beginning of next year.) How long does it take to make a stamp for mass-production? (Stamps are made with conventional lithography, which takes about 8 hours for a typical stamp.) What is the defect rate? (It's high, but you include lots of redundancy.) Have you thought about windshields and other clear displays? (Yes - transparency is part of the chemistry. The power consumption and failure states need to be worked out, though.)

I can imagine many applications for this, some positive (cheap, bendable computer displays and even computers, for one), some negative (pervasive animated advertisements, increased power consumption, etc.). What do you think?
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Darth Absinthe: Heron
darthabsinthe
2005-07-30 19:06 (UTC)
(no subject)
picture_keywordHeron
While e-paper is cool, there is not much that compares with the aestheticism of turning pages in a book. Oh, and that new book smell. Maybe an ebook with pages?
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2005-07-30 21:49 (UTC)
(no subject)
With the stuff he was talking about, you *could* make an ebook that, after you load a particular text on it, you could turn off the power and for all intents and purposes it looks, feels, and otherwise acts like a normal book. You can print this stuff on paper, and it keeps its current configuration if the power to it is turned off. Now, I don't know if they will actually make ebooks with 300 blank pages instead of two-page ebooks with a "next page" button or something like that, but time will tell ... after all, you can buy memory sticks with varying storage capacities, and in a way, different numbers of pages on ebooks is sort of the same thing. :~)
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Liz
stellae
2005-08-01 18:00 (UTC)
(no subject)
That is very cool. I don't think I could do the palm pilot scrolling e-reading thing -- I'm too attached to making notes in margins and underlining and so on. But if they had digital ink pens and books like this, I could probably do my highlighting and writing. If I could download that back to a computer and then reuse the blank book, that would be a really neat invention.
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2005-08-01 21:50 (UTC)
(no subject)
And hopefully you'd be able to save an annotated version, and have the option to switch annotation off ... as well as search your annotations (as well as the text of the book). That would rock! You could also make a copy of all of your annotations to give to a friend, and have it show up on their version of the book ...

I wonder what will become of fair use when the world goes completely to digital. It'd be easy for book publishers to arrange a "one copy only" or "one owner only" policy for e-books (like some are doing for MP3s now), which would kill used book stores and force libraries to either develop technical or legislative workarounds or just stick with plain paper. (But it would be cool to be able to optionally see other people's annotations in library books ...)
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Liz
stellae
2005-08-02 02:21 (UTC)
(no subject)
Now *that* would be awesome. (At least, the whole bit about annotations would be.)

Fair use is a complicated (and nebulous) set of laws already... and, incidentally, what's to prevent someone from borrowing a CD from a library and ripping their own MP3s of it?

Though I think the "one owner only" or "one copy only" policy does have some effect... it seems like there should be a way to keep used bookstores and libraries alive. But I suppose it depends on how e-books are marketed. If they were marketed in a manner similar to DVDs, libraries and used bookstores would face a forced media conversion, but their essential way of working could probably be about the same.

I think it would be really cool for e-newspapers, too... as you could theoretically get news articles tailored to your interests that you download every morning onto an e-newspaper or something to read during your commute or coffee break or whatever. :-)
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2005-08-02 03:02 (UTC)
(no subject)
You can copy library CDs as long as the CD isn't one of the newfangled ones that prevents digital copying. Not many have it yet, but it's growing ...

And e-newspapers could include new entries from your friends' blogs. ;~)
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Olego
olego
2005-08-01 23:06 (UTC)
(no subject)
Wow, that's awesome. Yes, ads everywhere. Yes, animated pornographic magazines. Yes, technology taking over the world. Yes! :-)
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Olego
olego
2005-08-01 23:06 (UTC)
(no subject)
Yes, your photo is really nice!
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Fata Morgana
chimerically
2005-08-02 03:02 (UTC)
(no subject)
Thanks!
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