E Ink – The Beginning, Today & Our Future

By Joe Jacobson, Co-Founder of E Ink,  Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, Molecular Machines Group, MIT & Felix Ho, Chairman, E Ink Corporation

“As a young graduate student I had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the globe and meet many people. On one memorable trip to a remote town in Peru I met an amazing young student who had never been more than a few miles from home.  He had notebooks and notebooks of extraordinary aeronautical designs.  Everything he had learned came from the one book on aeronautical engineering that his very modest town library had. His sole request to us was to please send him more books on aeronautical design. There are many examples like this, such as the famous Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who, starting at the age of 17, compiled some nearly 3900 highly original theorems in number theory starting with a single book that he had access to entitled A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics by George S. Carr.

What if each kid on the planet had had access to the world’s library of books? That was the basic goal behind E Ink.  Could we develop a new display and manufacturing technology that could produce eReaders that had the look and feel of real paper, consumed almost no power and could be manufactured at sufficient cost and volume to put a library of congress into the hands of each kid on the planet?  The enabling concept behind E Ink was to create a new paradigm in manufacturing – manufacturing by printing or ‘printed electronics’ to meet those goals.

To date E Ink has enabled the eBook market with eReaders that are feather-light and very thin, look like paper, have a low cost and can go a month or two on a charge.  The first eReader with a flexible display has even appeared on the market.  In the labs we have demonstrated bringing together the E Ink display surface, which is manufactured by printing, with experimental electronics (TFT’s) which have also been made by printing.  These devices will represent the first all printed consumer electronics and should allow us to start to approach the original goal of one eReader per child.  Stay tuned!”

- Dr. Joe Jacobson, Founder, E Ink  

“I was at MIT when Joe Jacobson and his team built the first concept electrophoretic displays and I had the opportunity to get involved from the very beginning.

In the 15 years since E Ink Corporation was first founded, we faced hurdles each year, as does any display technology company – and as do many other companies launching a new technology and a new market.  We faced technology hurdles, product design hurdles, manufacturing hurdles and the biggest of them all – educating the market about the value provided by electronic paper.

I am proud to say that our team overcame each hurdle. In 2007 we shipped 250K displays into the eReader space; last year we shipped 20+ million displays in the eReader market alone, and several million more into other applications. Our ePaper business grew from about $1M/month to over $100M/month in less than 5 years, and has since become the most popular display technology in the eReader market.

2012 New eReader Releases

E Ink’s electrophoretic technology offers the best digital reading experience of all electronic display technologies in the world. We manufacture our core product in the USA and export it to our own facility in China. We have research, development, manufacturing, marketing and sales globally to serve customers in various geographies. Our goal is E Ink On Every Smart Surface. And as Joe says, the value of our technology in the field of education is tremendous.

Over the past 15 years, we have consistently introduced new products with improved features every year, allowing our customers to launch new consumer devices like eReaders, mobile phones, wrist watches, USB drives, smart cards, shelf labels and retail signs. In late 2010 we announced our Triton color display.  In 2011 Triton won the Society For Information Display’s Gold Award, as well as Wall Street Journal’s Innovation Award.

Color E Ink eReaders

We continue to make progress in building better color displays to serve new markets. In addition, we have made improvements in the ink technology that have increased the ink speed year over year, and have reduced the need for a reset “flash” between each page turn.  Animation is no longer a lab-only achievement, but runs on our current generation ePaper.

We have made great strides with flexible displays both internally as well as in collaboration with partners.  We have already shipped several million flexible displays in our segmented product line into a variety of applications.  We expect to see many more designs in the future, and flexible high resolution displays for reading applications are beginning to emerge.

E Ink Segmented Products

We also see enormous potential in the signage industry for our displays.  We are working on a number of signage applications that leverage the advantages of our low power and paper-like attributes, and have set the lofty goal for ourselves of replacing paper signs with EPD.  We look forward to sharing these new products with you as they get closer to launch.

The success of our company is not only due to the effort of every E Inker but also due to the tremendous support from our customers, suppliers and partners. In an effort to explain and promote our products and technology, our websites, www.eink.com and www.einkgroup.com  are offered in English, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.  You can also learn more about us via social media channels like Facebook, Weibo, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and others.

We are launching this blog to further educate the market about the value of our technology, as well as to showcase new products, markets, and advancements in the display industry in general.  We hope you enjoy it.

- Felix Ho, Chairman, E Ink Corporation 



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