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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

e-Paper: Two Key Issues 

A few recent articles point out two key issues coming with the development of e-Paper technology and applications.

The first is the potential for competing content formats:

"Already, we're seeing multiple content formats needed[, says AFAICS partner Nick Hampshire.] Looking into the quite near future, we expect the number of e-paper devices to proliferate rapidly, and we expect many consumer electronics makers to go for their own, proprietary content formats. There's a limit to how many a small, low-power device can support without becoming too costly to sell. It's important for the industry to focus on harmonising content standards early, before we have a Tower of Babel."

(Click here to read the whole piece, which focuses on a cool new rigid e-Paper reader called The Iliad, which reminds me of a less bulky Rocketbook.)

The second is the potential for e-Paper to make "the cereal aisle at your local supermarket...resemble the Las Vegas strip," in the words of Wired's Bruce Gain, in a piece on content packaging as e-Paper's Killer App. (He also describes Siemens' version of the technology, with less resolution, but with a simpler and cheaper production process.)

As advertisements increasingly permeate almost every aspect of our lives, the last thing we need is another attention-grabbing technology, said Kalle Lasn, founder of Adbusters Media Foundation and Buy Nothing Day.
"I don't want to throw cold water on the technology until I have seen it, but I would like to look at the bigger picture at why we are going crazy, suffering from mood disorders or why so many kids are on Zoloft or Ritalin," Lasn said. "Let's look at the larger picture and deal with the pollution of our mental environment and see what it means for Siemens to throw one more very powerful, visual device into that."

I think the first issue is more important than the second--for e-Paper to work, we need a standard content authoring and delivery protocol--an html language for low power flexible displays.

As to the second issue, well...but really, like...mental pollution?...My attention span is just...what was I saying?

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