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May 19, 2008

Fujitsu Unveils New E-paper Prototype with Improved Refresh

By Anamika Singh, TMCnet Contributing Editor

Fujitsu announced that it has developed a prototype electronic paper screen that tackles the problem of amount of time that it takes to refresh the image.
Fujitsu’s prototype addresses what is widely acknowledged as the biggest obstacle for e-paper by confining refresh to just the parts of the screen that need to be changed.
The company demonstrated a working prototype, a 12-inch display (about the same size as an A4 sheet of paper) with 768x1,024 pixels (XGA) resolution. It works optimally in cases where the displays are used for applications like electronic forms and users are required to checks a box or write in a space on the form. In such cases, only those rows or columns of the display that have changed are refreshed.

Most of the current electronic paper screens like those used in Amazon.com's (News - Alert) Kindle or Sony's Reader take almost a second or more to redraw the image on the screen compared to the milliseconds taken on other display screens. Sometimes there is a screen flicker while the new image appears. Fujitsu's cholesteric LCD technology, however, enables the image to be slowly revealed in a long sweep across the screen.
Companies are focusing on e-paper display as it offers several advantages over conventional LCD panels. Since the displays are made on sheets of plastic the entire screen is flexible, lightweight and almost paper-thin. It also requires no back-light or constant power supply to keep the image on the screen, making it highly energy efficient. It is also easy to read in bright light, and only uses power when the on-screen image is being changed.
Fujitsu has been working on developing electronic paper for several years now. Last year it began offering sample e-paper based portable information tablets with a network connection to customers in Japan.
Fujitsu is also targeting applications such as retail displays. The small and flexible screens could be attached easily to supermarket shelves and connected to a computer via a wireless network, so prices or information about special offers could be updated easily.

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