I’ve always been fascinated by the way in which new applications drive new developments in technologies. What’s got me interested today is the military applications of eInk. The potential benefits are clear. Low power draw, huge standby times, clear to read in pretty much any conditions, and far more durable than your average LCD. If production costs on the material itself can be driven down sufficiently, this technology could significantly reduce the average infantry load of batteries and equipment at a reasonable price without costing functionality.
HP’s prototype, according to the Wired article on the subject, should be available starting next year. They have some thoughts on how to make the production more efficient, the basic idea being to use the flexible nature of the material to print continuous runs of the displays instead of small batch jobs. Take these, power them with portable solar panels sewn into fabric to charge on the go and you’ve got some really impressive versatility.
This excites me as a consumer, honestly. Yeah, I’ll still want a Kindle or something similar for reading books, but the idea of my next road trip’s GPS being something I can strap to my wrist and forget about when it isn’t in use is quite appealing. A decade ago we started having entertainment technology that was small and thin enough to conveniently fit in a pocket, a decade from now we may have some that can be sewn right into things. Definitely a fun idea.