As we think of “ePaper” or “e-ink” we usually picture a small device which allows us to read books during vacation without having to carry them as paperbacks.

Technology is changing which is why the old-fashioned black and white displays that only work with limited shades of gray are slowing going out of vogue.

Color is the new gray, a milestone for digital ink. This advancement caught the attention of Digital Signage industry, too. Therefore, more and more companies that offer Digital Signage solutions are also moving into featuring large ePaper Displays.

It should be mentioned that today’s ePaper monitors are way more than just a 6” eBook screen!

4 Characteristics of Large ePaper Displays

1. Extremely energy-efficient
One of the main selling features of large ePaper Displays is their energy efficiency. Compared with conventional LCD-monitors, they use 99% less energy. This opens up a number of different possibilities in the area of information boards.

Information boards are Digital Signage solutions that are mainly used in hospitals, museums, supermarkets, as well as in transit centers. The reason for their energy efficiency is simple: Power consumption shuts down as soon as the image is pictured onto the display.

By this technology, it is even possible to run those screens on battery or photovoltaic cells. Sounds like a nice feature!

2. Rugged shell but still flexible
Most of their components are made of synthetic material. Therefore the devices are highly weatherproofed. Besides, they are really flexible in their shape. All of these features are highly desired when it comes to designing and implementing an outdoor Digital Signage project. The use of ePaper opens up the possibilities of different designs as well as help to protect your project from the elements.

3. Improved readability
Based upon prior use in eBooks, these screens have proven that they are a preferred medium for readability. Just remember: That was the original idea behind this technology. A display with no backlight, delivering the same readability like a printed page in a book.

Even under intense solar radiation conditions, ePaper has still been shown to generate a readable image. The reason for that is a resolution of 150 dpi for monochrome and color monitors. Just keep in mind: This resolution is great but cannot compete against images created on an LCD screen.

4. Viewing angle
Another important fact when it comes to Digital Signage applications is the available viewing angle, the more the merrier! A larger radius allows viewers to see a clear image from a variety of different positions.

That increases the perception of your installation. Large ePaper displays enable a 180-degree angle horizontal and vertical. Yet another “check” on the pro- ePaper-display-list!

Digital Signage on the road

There are more than the reasons mentioned above that lead to an e-ink display solution. In Europe, certain laws restrict using outdoor Digital Signage installations.

Those rules broach the issue of creating electromagnetic fields as well as the use of photometric constructs. Conventional LED and LCD screens create an electromagnetic field.

Besides, those monitors are considered to be a photometric construct which is also forbidden, especially on the road.

Big ePaper displays are not restricted by those laws. Why? They run by a different technology. They do not produce light on their own which allows them to be used in this sector.

RoadAds, a German company came up with an idea to use those monitors on the back of trucks. Therefore, they designed an installation of two 4×4 ePaper screens. The result: A rolling commercial and infotainment system.

E-Paper Display installed on a truck

The difference lies in the detail. The content can be adjusted according to the actual position of each truck. To do so, the information gets transported by an online platform onto the screens.

With the help of GPS, the position of the vehicle can be determined down to an accurate range of 16 feet. This feature enables to place local advertisement just in time. For example, a local retailer could inform customers about his daily offer shortly before the truck goes by the exit to his store.

Thinking bigger, international companies could adjust their ads as the vehicle crosses a border and the language changes. At the same time, the rugged shell means that you can drive through the car wash without damaging your display.

The course is set: In June 2017 the first monitors will be seen on the German Autobahn.

A colorful future for large ePaper Displays?

Until now, the market did not generate large ePaper color displays; however, the demand is there. The goal was to keep the energy efficiency as well as the picture elements during the technical implementation.

So far colors were generated by laying filters over the black and white layer. However, there was a problem, in that the filters reduced the overall quality of the image.

All of this looks to change as a new large 32-inch ePaper display is getting ready to enter the market. This screen is able to reproduce 42.000 colors. They do this by using colored, electrically charged particles that float in liquid to create the image. The highlight: energy efficiency stays low. In comparison: LED screens offer the full range of 16.7 million colors.

If or when this technique will take roots in the Digital Signage sector isn’t know yet. There exists continued room for improvement, especially in the improvement of image quality and the introduction of moving images.

An additional hurdle is the lack of an external source of light, which limits the ability of the screens to be used at night. But one thing is for sure: large ePaper displays are a great niche product, particularly when legal restrictions limit the use of other technologies.