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Optoelectronics/Displays??

E-ink replaces LCDs in wearables

Posted: 08 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wearables? E-ink? LCD? smart watch?

E-ink displays are not only slim and flexible; they also consume low power due to their bi-stable property. These qualities make them the best match for today's power-conscious wearable applications.

Until full colour flexible OLED screens can be manufactured with acceptable yields, it looks like the only rugged and shatter-proof alternative to power-hungry LCDs.

So much so that despite competing in the smart watch arena with "traditional" TFT LCD-based designs such as the SmartWatch 3 it launched last September, Sony is also developing watch bracelets based on E-ink, albeit without all the bells and whistle that more responsive screens can offer.

Last September, the company officially brought to market the SmartBand Talk, designed as a life-logger, bringing call handling and voice control with an always-on curved 1.4in E-ink display.

But at the same time, Sony was further exploring that route using a Japanese crowd-funding website to probe the market with a bracelet watch fully cut out of an E-ink display sheet (dial and belt included).

FES watch

The FES watch as seen on crowd-funding site Makuake.

Here, the whole display and bracelet can change style, with 24 design patterns selectable manually using the crown, but also with gestures-enabled on-off dial functions or through time-dependent routines. The whole unit could operate two months in a row on a single button battery (way better than TFT-alternatives, but in my opinion still way too short for a time-keeping piece).

For discretion, the new product was crowd-sourced under the spin-off company name Fashion Entertainments (FES), and the FES watch quickly became a success, getting over its initial two million yen bid (roughly $16,500).

After completing successfully its first crowd-sourcing campaign, the company initiated another run (dubbed FES watch returns) just to extend the purchase opportunity to new entrants, collecting nearly $78,700 at the time of writing and still going.

On the crowd-sourcing site, Fashion Entertainments also states that the FES watch is only the first step in the company's exploration of E-Ink's potential to develop other fashion products with versatile and configurable skins, such as pattern-changing bow ties, spectacle frames or shoes.

E-ink

For such accessories, colour E-Ink could be envisaged and configuration could certainly be done through a special app, using a smartphone's NFC or Bluetooth LE wireless link to program the multi-pattern routines.

- Julien Happich
??EE Times Europe





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