Remember that wirelessly powered E-ink tag system I showed you back in June?
A team of researchers at the University of Washington, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Intel Labs have come up with a very similar trick involving an NFC equipped smartphone and a 2.7" E-ink screen.
They're calling it the NFC-WISP E-ink Display Tag, but when you strip away the cool tech it's largely the same idea that Mpico showed me in Vancouver and that British Airways is using for their new luggage tags.
But in spite of my trying to downplay the newness, it's still pretty cool. The researchers have developed a way to pair a smartphone with an E-ink screen. This demo video shows it in action:
This concept probably won't be practical with large E-ink screens or high resolution screens, unfortunately.
E-ink screens require a fair amount of power each time you refresh the screen, and of course larger screens require more power. That means the time required to transmit enough power increases with the screen size, and I doubt anyone wants to wait a really long time while holding their smartphone to the E-ink screen..
But this concept will let you do things like transfer a low resolution version of a screenshot to the small E-ink screen on the WISP Display Tag. You can't do anything with it other than look at the screen, but that's still pretty useful, IMO.
Now, this demo might not be the first, but it does have at least one point in its favor. The researchers want to release the design as open source. If that happens then it would mean that pretty much any hardware developer could use the design to produce their own hardware, thus speeding more competing products to market (and into my hands).