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E-paper applications – crucial things you should know

There exist a lot of online articles listing unique characteristics and advantages of e-paper. I suppose, you have already read them all. But are you convinced that you are really acquainted with EPD?

First of all, you should realize that EPD (e-paper displays) are not the end product. It is just a component you will have to work with. There are a few aspects you need to be aware of when developing your EPD system.

Visibility

You ought to remember EPD imitates traditional paper sheet. This is the reason why you won’t be able to read the content during the night without using an external lightning.

Colors – also an option

You can use in your application a 31,2” color panel with 4096 colors displayed. It is more than enough in applications where you intend to exchange traditional paper sheet for EPD.

There exist also some FPL with additional pigment: yellow or red. You receive display with three colors: black, white & red or yellow. This solution is perfect for pointing out the most important content, such as discounts and prices. In other case, you can choose from a rich offer of black and white panels by E Ink.

Controllers

The most elementary issue is choosing a suitable controller that drives EPD. We have two options: ready-to-go platform or a more flexible option - low-power TCON. This gives you an easy choice depending on your application.

If you intend to install a big amount of displays in very short time and you have no time for developing your own host, a perfect choice would be the ready-to-go platform. Easy configuration, CMS to manage content via www and two-type connection - 3G or WiFi. You would also need cloud hosting to keep the content, but it’s not a problem at all.

The second option means a bit more work. As you will have to use SPI interface, your own local host is a necessity. On the other hand, there are advantages such as significant reduction of power consumption and the possibility to design the whole device as you wish.

Power consumption

Generally, power consumption is a complex issue. As you probably are aware of, e-paper is bistable and its main benefit is low power consumption. Tough, you should take into consideration the whole system. In fact, the main part of power consumption is the controller’s work . However, there are also other factors such as the communication protocol or your own local host. Heating system and external lightning also matter when considering power consumption.

If you choose to apply external battery in place of stable power supply, you ought to be truly cautious while designing the whole system.

Housing

Next important issue is a proper housing and front glass. The perfect situation is when the front glass is optically bonded to the EPD. This would harden the whole construction as EPD is outstandingly thin. However, you should be very cautious when choosing the front glass as you need to be sure that it includes all filters. If you design outdoor application, UV filter is obligatory.

When considering outdoor applications, please remember that EPD is highly sensitive to moisture. That’s why your housing should be truly hermetic.

Temperatures below zero degrees

The e-capsules are submerged in a fluid. In negative temperature the fluid’s density grows. This may result in problems with refreshing and changing the content. If you don’t change the displayed content, the information stays in place. As a solution for the issue, you may think of adding heating system to the module.

MTBF – Mean Time Between Failures

There is a parameter MTBF – mean time between failures. However, MTBF obviously depends on the way you operate the e-paper display. If you take into consideration all the issues written above, you may assume 8 000 000 times as the number of modifying the content.

Let’s play with some math – you alter the content every 10 seconds, 8 hours per day. You’ll receive 8 years of constant work. However, it is more probable you would modify the content more rarely. Let’s say every minute, 8 hours per day. It gives you 48 years of continuous work.

TCO – Total Cost of Ownership)

Look at some estimations:

  • 1 set of 32” display, operating 16 hours daily, over 1 year
  • Content on EPD updates every hour and it takes 1 second to complete image update
  • Power consumption of 32” LCD signage system is 145 W (outdoor, model: Hyundai IBT, H325SSI)
  • Power consumption of 32” EPD outdoor/indoor signage system: update image 23.7 W (includes control board), still image 1.3 W
  • CO2 conversion: 1kWh = 1.5lbs of CO2 emissions (source: www.epa.gov)
  • Total Energy Consumption (1 day, operating 16 hours)
  • LCD: 2,3 kWh
  • EPD: 0,02 kWh
  • Total Energy Consumption (1 year, 16 h per day)
  • LCD: 846,8 kWh
  • EPD: 7,6 kWh

It gives us over 111 times savings.

EPD technology is not so easy to implement like regular LCD. It is unquestionably more complex.

Unisystem, business partner of E Ink - the world’s biggest e-paper manufacturer, will help you at every stage of your project. We are willing to share our know-how with you and may assure you that with our support your system will be developed according to your needs.

Check our offer or to get more information contact us.

 Uni's Guide