As we think of “ePaper” or “e-ink” we usually picture a small device which allows us to read books during vacation without bringing them in paper. Technology is changing which is why the old fashioned black and white displays that only work with limited shades of gray will go out of vogue. Color is the new gray, a milestone for digital ink. This advancement caught the attention of Digital Signage industry, too. Therefore, more and more companies that offer Digital Signage solutions resort to large ePaper Displays. It should be mentioned that today’s ePaper monitors are way more than just a 6” eBook screen!
4 characteristics of large ePaper Displays
1. Extremely energy-efficient
One of the main characteristics of large ePaper Displays is their energy efficiency. Compared with conventional LCD-monitors you save up to 99% of the energy required before. Especially when it comes to information boards there are many potentials. Those Digital Signage solutions are mostly used in hospitals, museums, supermarkets, as well as in light rail traffic. The reason for its energy efficiency is simple: Power consumption shuts down as soon as the image is pictured onto the display. By this technology it is even possible to run those screens on battery or photo voltaic cells. Sounds like a nice feature!
2. Rugged shell but still flexible
Most of their components are made of synthetic material. Therefor the devices are highly weatherproofed. Besides, they are really flexible in their shape. Features which are gladly seen when it comes to outdoor Digital Signage projects. By that, different designs can be realized easily. On top, your installation will resist any kind of weather.
3. Nice readability
According to their past (eBook) those screens convince insofar as readability is concerned. Just remember: That was the original idea behind this technology. A display with no back-light, delivering the same readability like a printed page in a book. Even under the condition of incident solar radiation they still generate a useful image. Reason for that is a resolution of 150 dpi for monochrome and color monitors. Just keep in mind: This resolution is great but cannot compete against images created on a LCD screen.
4. Viewing angle
Another important fact when it comes to Digital Signage applications is the available viewing angle, the more the merrier! A larger radius allows viewers to see a clear image from several positions. That increases the perception of your installation. Large ePaper displays enable an 180 degree angle horizontal and vertical. Yet another “check” on the pro- ePaper-display-list!
Digital Signage on the road
There are more than the reasons mentioned above that lead to an e-ink display solution. In Europe certain laws restrict using outdoor Digital Signage installations. Those rules broach the issue of creating electromagnetic fields as well as the use of photometric constructs. Conventional LED and LCD screens create an electromagnetic field. Besides, those monitors are considered to be a photometric construct which is also forbidden, especially on the road.
Big ePaper displays are not restricted by those laws. Why? They run by a different technology. They do not produce light on their own which allows them to be used in this sector. RoadAds, a German company came up with an idea to use those monitors on the back of trucks. Therefore, they designed an installation of two 4×4 ePaper screens. The result: A rolling commercial and infotainment system.
The difference lies in the detail. The content can be adjusted according to the actual position of each truck. To do so, the information gets transported by an online platform onto the screens. With the help of GPS the position of the vehicle can be determined down to an accurate range of 16 feet. This feature enables to place local advertisement just in time. For example, a local retailer could inform customers about his daily offer shortly before the truck runs by the exit to his store. If you think bigger, international companies could adjust their ads as the vehicle crosses a border and the language changes. At the same time the rugged shell approves car wash without getting damaged, so you can keep your truck nice and shiny. The course is set: In June 2017 the first monitors will be seen on the German Autobahn.
A colorful future for large ePaper Displays?
Until now, the market did not generate large ePaper color displays. But the demand exists. The crux was to keep the energy efficiency as well as the picture elements during the technical implementation. So far colors were generated by filters laying over the black and white layer. The problem: Those filters reduced the quality of the image. That influences the out coming design. By now a large 32-inch ePaper display entered the market. This screen is able to reproduce 42.000 colors. Colored, electrically charged particles that float in liquid, create the image. The highlight: Energy efficiency stays low. In comparison: LED screens offer the full range of 16.7 million colors.
If or until this technique will take roots in Digital Signage sector it will be a long road to go. There is still a potential of improvement, especially for the definition of images as well as for moving images. Besides those screens do not work during night time as long as no external source of light is included. But one thing is for sure: Large ePaper displays are a great niche product, particularly when legal restrictions disable other technologies.