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E-paper – revolution in digital signage

Interview with James Hsieh from E Ink

According to IHS, the digital signage display market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.2% from 2018 to 2021. With the fast growing trend of IoT, AI and Big Data, digital signage becomes a crucial platform for public and private sectors to delivery real-time information.

E Ink, the originator, pioneer and commercial leader in ePaper technology, foreseeing the development of signage display will align with the concepts of eco-friendly and smart city, which the development can be realized by the benefits of "bistable" and "reflective” of Electronic Paper Display (EPD) solution.

Bistablility refers to the fact that an image on a e-paper screen will be retained even when all

Fot. 1 Prototype of full-color e-paper display (Advanced Color E-Paper, ACeP)

power sources are removed. This means that the display is consuming power only when something is changing. For example, when applying EPD as menu boards or promotional signs, the power is only needed when turning to a new image, but no power is consumed by the display when the menu boards remained with the same the text and picture contents. The feature of reflectivness can be illustrated when EPD demonstrates as bus, railway, and transportation signs. The ePaper display offers an excellent readability by reflecting ambient light, such as sunlight and street lights.

James Hsieh, Director, IoT BU- Signage & Architecture of Sales Center from E Ink shared the company’s insight about the market and business.

Unisystem (Uni): Digital signage is a fast-growing market where attractive visualization of information becomes a crucial aspect. What are E Ink’s nearest plans for the future in this area?

James Hsieh (JH): Digital signage is a high-growing and specific market. We plan to focus on our standard display modules of sizes 13.3”, 31.2” and 42”. The decision to keep just three main categories is based on our long-term market experience and strengthened by analysis of clients’ inquiries. All models are black and white with one exception. 31.2” display is available in two versions – black and white and with color filter design. By adding color, we’d like to create more options for our clients. In 2017 we also designed a prototype of full-color ePaper module for indoor applications. This is the first truly full-color ePaper signage display in the world.

Fot. 2 Transport application with e-paper displays

Uni: Uni: It seems that adding color is a natural way of developing display technology. And what about animations?

JH: When it comes to ePaper, semi –dynamic use cases are most suitable. E Ink business goal is not to compete with manufacturers producing LCD or OLED displays. We aim to replace traditional paper with ePaper which provides much more user value at the same time. Applications such as e-readers, e-labels, e-tags or posters with some interactive elements require rather static content. We’d like to be the future of paper not the future of displays.

Uni: Indeed. However, faster response time is more than welcome especially in applications collocated with transportation. Do you still work on it?

JH: Yes. The response time is tested and enhanced to ensure that better user experience is received by both users and viewers.

Uni: E Ink sales development generally bases on cooperation with various business partners. Why is it so important for E Ink to work with solution providers like Unisystem or MpicoSys instead of using standard selling channels?

JH: : Currently, ePaper reader is one of the major ePaper applications that dominate in the global market for over ten years. However, with the features of ultra-low-power consumption and easy and comfort readability, ePaper could be applied in many other fields or industries we never thought before. Applications possibilities are everywhere. We may not have enough resources to be in so many projects and provide satisfactory supports in the same time. That is the reason we need a strong partners like Unisystem to extend our business competitiveness. We aim to build a strong business ecosystem for providing better product performance and enhance satisfaction of end-client.

Fot. 3 Transport application with e-paper displays

On 27th Feb. – 1st March 2018 Unisystem takes part in one of the world-biggest trade fair for embedded systems. More than 1,000 exhibitors from more than 40 countries and among them E Ink ePaper modules presented by Unisystem in booth 1-206. How would you encourage visitors to come and see ePaper display modules of E Ink during Embedded World 2018?

JH: ePaper technology is an innovative idea for clients who think about sustainable, eco-friendly and modern development of their applications. By visiting Unisystem booth on Embedded World 2018, they’ll have a unique opportunity to see, touch and experience ePaper live and to obtain detailed information about technology and application opportunities.

Fot. 4 Representatives of E Ink with Unisystem board of directors in Unisystem’s HQ