e-ink billboards
September 8, 2006 1:08 PM   Subscribe

Magink has built the worlds first billboard using a type of e-ink, similar to the display technology used in the coveted Sony Reader devices - except it is 10'x20' and in full color. Advertisers nirvana and a colorized glimpse of the future of electronic ink devices.
posted by stbalbach (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Scary detail. Where is this billboard at?
posted by mathowie at 1:24 PM on September 8, 2006


interesting. anybody have any idea what the technology is? the magink site is totally devoid of any details.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:30 PM on September 8, 2006


o, nevermind - i think this is it.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:36 PM on September 8, 2006


Anyone know when the Sony Readers are actually going to be available?
posted by Zinger at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2006


I wonder about the cost of these, and how many ads they have to sell to make it cheaper than printing a traditional billboard and sending a guy up to change it.

I'm also seeing a grid behind the images... tells me that the technology isn't quite there yet. It shouldn't be long before somebody hacks the thing and puts their own message up there.
posted by SteveInMaine at 1:53 PM on September 8, 2006


Here are some links that might explain the technology a bit:

HowStuffWorks article on electronic ink
Wikipedia article on electronic paper/ink
E Ink corporation home

This is very cool.
posted by SBMike at 1:54 PM on September 8, 2006


I wonder how long before we see electronic tattoos?
posted by SBMike at 1:58 PM on September 8, 2006


Do you ever sometimes get that whole "holy crap, I really am living in the future" feeling?
posted by mckenney at 2:03 PM on September 8, 2006


Constantly.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:04 PM on September 8, 2006


Anyone know when the Sony Readers are actually going to be available?

In a month or two. I'm trying to get a review unit before launch.
posted by mathowie at 2:07 PM on September 8, 2006


What resolution would electronic screens have to attain to be indistinguishable from true ink on paper?
posted by Iridic at 2:15 PM on September 8, 2006


I'd give it all up for a flying car.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2006


sbmike: i work in a research group where a good half of the people are involved in developing various kinds of e-ink and similar flexible-display technologies. there are about a zillion different approaches to this - including bicolored capsule rotation, dielectrophoresis, electronic switching of surface molecules to move fluids around, interference devices, etc etc.

what i find interesting about this is that it (seems to, at least if the link i posted above is the right thing) use liquid crystals, which makes it a type of LCD, but what i don't get is how it works in reflection mode, not transmission. with a normal LCD, polarized colored light is emitted behind the pixel and the liquid crystals rotate the polarization 90 degrees. with reflection you'd need some way of rotating the polarization vector the same direction whether the light is going in or coming back out. i'm having a hard time figuring out how this works.

i'm also having a hard time figuring out how they get bistability (i.e., "on" pixels stay "on" even when the power is removed) in a liquid crystal device.

anyway it's very interesting stuff.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 2:23 PM on September 8, 2006


Cannot resist an irrelevant design geek moment: that is the second-worst logos I've ever seen. Shareware fonts + bad kerning + random meaningless square! Perfect! Print up some letterhead!

This is the first-worst logo I've ever seen.

And I recognize the Inkburrow font because *cough* I once used it in a logo

posted by ook at 2:24 PM on September 8, 2006


Do you ever sometimes get that whole "holy crap, I really am living in the future" feeling?

Yeah, but mostly I'm just continuously dismayed since, oh, about 9/11/2001 or so... Turns out he future fucking sucks man. I want a refund.
posted by delmoi at 3:06 PM on September 8, 2006


Cannot resist an irrelevant design geek moment: that is the second-worst logos I've ever seen. Shareware fonts + bad kerning + random meaningless square! Perfect! Print up some letterhead!

I kind of like it.

"This is the first-worst logo I've ever seen."

I see you and I rase you.
posted by delmoi at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2006


The website touts Magink's suitability for "extreme outdoor environments". Are they thinking this is their market?
posted by cal71 at 3:13 PM on September 8, 2006


Are we bringing out all the standard horrific logos now? Okay.
posted by darksasami at 4:53 PM on September 8, 2006


"What resolution would electronic screens have to attain to be indistinguishable from true ink on paper?"

You can probably get away with 1200 pixels per inch with anti-aliasing, because while the film and plates for printed matter are usually rendered at 2400 ppi, the ink spreads somewhat chaotically on the paper fibers (an effect called "dot gain") so the edges of the ink marks are not as sharp as one might think - kind of an analog "anti-alias" effect.

It might even work at 600 ppi, but I doubt it. Our eyes are quite remarkable in their ability to pick out small detail.

I will say again, what I'm looking forward to with this technology is a 36" x 48" drawing table where the entire surface is a computer display that I can draw on like a Wacom Cintiq and manipulate things using my hands, touch sensitive.

That's all I really want out of this stuff, the killer app drawing table for digital artists. *sigh*
posted by zoogleplex at 5:18 PM on September 8, 2006


you could have a portfolio with just one bit of epaper and have it flip through all your pictures or you could hang it in a gallery and it would be changeable - this is very interesting.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:23 PM on September 8, 2006


I Know Where I'm Going
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:37 PM on September 8, 2006


http://www.eink.com/press/images/highres_downloads/citizen_eink_bendable_clock_highres.jpg
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:39 PM on September 8, 2006


this is very interesting.

And a little sad, I think. The end of books is almost upon us. I know that the prospect of an all-digital world is supposed to be exciting, but I somehow can't muster up much enthusiasm for the end of libraries and bookmarks and the scent of paper.
posted by Iridic at 7:04 PM on September 8, 2006


At a conference last month I saw and talked to someone who had a prerelease iRex, which is in the same class of device as the Sony Reader — there seem to be a handful of these things all scheduled to come out this year sometime. It looked pretty nice (it's aound 150 DPI, and looked roughly as good as cheap newsprint), lightweight, no screwy DRM crap, runs Linux...

sergeant sandwich: There's something called a cholesteric LCD, which is bistable and normally manufactured to use reflected light. But I've only seen cLCD displays in normal a-few-inches size, not billboard-size.

zoogleplex: If you're not doing dithering, halftoning, fine line work, etc., I'm guessing that 400 DPI would be casually indistinguishabe from continuous.
posted by hattifattener at 8:00 PM on September 8, 2006


The end of books is almost upon us.

nah probably will never happen, books have qualities that make the information they contain more trustworthy and authoritative. They can't be changed or modified, they have a virtually unlimited shelf-life (and make for good interior decoration), they don't require special knowledge or devices.. there are a lot of reasons books will remain. Imagine a professional scholar who never published a real "book", only in e-ink -- not very professional or career enhancing - people trust books, and for good reason, they are static and unchangeable and permanent. E-ink will just be a new type of information medium in addition to books.
posted by stbalbach at 9:00 PM on September 8, 2006


So, since it seems like there are some extremely knowledgable people here who seem to be actively involved in work on this technology, I wanted to get your opinions. Does this stuff really have the potential to cause the revolution it seems like it might? The way I see... it's potentially the end of books, monitors, TVs (imagine a big screen paper you just roll onto the wall). Obviously, that's a long-term proposition, but if this stuff became affordable and widespread it seems like it could become the new step in mass communication, making the spread of information more affordable, widespread, and powerful. A new, easier form of access to digital information.

So, from those of you who are actually working on the technology, is this possible, even if only far on the foreseeable horizon? Or am I dreaming about the modern equivalent of flying cars?
posted by switchsonic at 9:45 PM on September 8, 2006


This stuff is going to make the best Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy. A roll up map!!!
posted by my homunculus is drowning at 7:36 AM on September 9, 2006


Does this stuff really have the potential to cause the revolution it seems like it might?

well.. i'm far from an expert in the field, but it seems to be more of an evolutionary step than a revolutionary one. we already have technologies that can handle the various roles that an e-paper might fill. we already have large, dynamic color displays (LCDs and jumbotrons), large cheap color displays (billboards and signs), and small lightweight portable displays (plain ol' paper).

these kinds of technology purport to do all of these things, and do them better, cheaper, more efficiently. the only real new functionality here is to combine features of these existing technologies (cheap and lightweight like paper, colorful and dynamic like electronic displays). anyway i don't think this is going to be like a new internet or anything - aside from gee-whiz stuff like billboards that move and building-size video screens, these displays don't really do anything new. these are all incremental improvements.

as for whether we are likely to see this stuff soon - that depends on things like whether there is really a market for it or not. the technological obstacles at this point are sticky, but basically engineering / reliability issues that need to get ironed out.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 2:46 PM on September 10, 2006


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