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E-ink Now Working on a 300′ Screen

click to enlarge

Okay, this is technically not a screen, but the photo is cool none the less.

I got this photo from E-ink this morning. They wanted to demonstrate a few details about how the screen material is made, so they  unrolled a few hundred feet of it, dangled it off a crane, and took this picture. One end is attached to the end of a crane that’s 30′ up int the air. The photo was taken in the basket, and that’s why the image looks a little odd.

Trust me, you really want to click on the image and see it full size. It’s impressive.

Let me tell you something about how this material is used. It’s a rather interesting process.

E-ink has a factory in MA where they make make the source material for their screen. It comes off the assembly line as a single plastic sheet that measures several feet wide and up to a mile long. The sheet is then rolled into a cylinder (much like paper products) and shipped to Asia.

click to enlarge

The factories in Asia unroll the plastic sheeting, cut out the standard screen sizes (5″, 6″, 9.7″), and then mount this material on backplanes.

The sheeting at right is the same material as the screen that you can see on your Kindle. But what you cannot see on your Kindle is the backplane, and the backplane is actually what makes the screen turn from black to white and so on.

You can think of a backplane as a glass plate of tiny magnetic switches.  They’re laid out in a grid (much like pixels on a screen). When a switch changes from positive to negative, it changes what you can see on the screen by attracting one color and repelling the other. The color you see is the one that is being repelled by the backplane. It’s more complicated than that, and I didn’t really explain how the grayscale works, but it’s an adequate mental image for now.

I’m sure you know that the iriver Story HD has a higher resolution E-ink screen than on any other ereader. The screen has a higher resolution not because it came from a better sheet of plastic but because of the backplane. The Story HD uses a backplane that can squeeze in more pixels than can be found on the Kindle.

You might also know that the 5″ E-ink screen has the same resolution as the 6″ screen (600×800).  Again, that’s not becuase of the screen material, but is a result of a backplane that can pack the pixels in tighter.

Did you click on the pictures? Pretty cool, huh?

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Jon Jermey October 13, 2011 um 4:22 pm

Now make it say 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY!" in scrolling letters..

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Andrys October 15, 2011 um 10:32 pm

That was interesting, Nate. Also, the oversaturation of colors on the photo made the e-Ink bluish 🙂 But sending rolls of e-ink sheet of that to Asia where it is cut up, that I didn’t know, and the photo of the ribbon-like sheet was definitely something to see.

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