How e-paper works

E-paper (also called ePaper) is an electronic display technology that mimics the appearance of paper. Using the same inks as the traditional printing industry, e-paper displays (EPDs) have tiny capsules filled with charged ink particles. When the proper charge is applied, an EPD creates highly detailed images with the contrast ratio and readability of printed material.

White paper: A guide to e-paper technology and its growing range of applications

Made famous by the Amazon Kindle, e-paper is an electronic display technology which mimics the appearance of paper. As a bistable display technology, e-paper can be extremely low power, allowing it to be used in devices without the power budget of a traditional LCD display. Once the text and images of an EPD have been rendered no power is needed to maintain the display. In fact, e-paper is so low power that harvested energy can be used to make updates, enabling the use of RFID or NFC devices with batteryless EPDs.

For more insight into how e-paper works, download our white paper.

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Ultra-low power displays open new options for IoT

As a bistable display technology, e-paper is an extremely low power option. Once an EPD renders text and images, no power is needed to maintain the display. In fact, e-paper can use harvested energy to make updates, enabling you to design RFID or NFC IoT devices with battery-less EPDs. If you’d like to get a more complete look at power consumption for your application, please contact us.

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IoT and industrial applications look smarter
with e-paper displays

You can add thin, light, highly-readable e-paper displays to extremely power-constrained devices to enhance many IoT applications including logistics, discrete manufacturing and retail. The simplest approach is to adopt an internal Timing Controller (iTC) module. For ultra-lower power consumption, opt for an external Timing Controller (eTC) architecture, in which the host MPU generates the driving waveform.

Try these approaches today with a development kit from Pervasive Displays, which contains an onboard driving circuit to help you easily develop EPD applications.

  • Low and ultra-low power consumption
  • NFC/RFID energy-harvesting capability
  • High readability – even outdoors
  • Thin and lightweight form factor
  • Bistable display retains image without power
  • Three-color e-paper displays available

Designing e-paper displays for IoT applications

Wirelessly connected electronic shelf labels allow for remote, central management and dynamic price strategies in retail locations.

E-paper provides at-a-glance visibility into RFID/NFC tag data in logistics and manufacturing applications.

EPDs can improve the usability of many battery-powered IoT devices, such as utility meters, cold-chain temperature data loggers and environmental sensors.

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E-paper is far less power-hungry than reflective TFT-LCD screen

ModelCurrent consumption (mA)(*1) Update duration (s)Standby (mA)Power consumption of screen update (mAs)(*3) Power consumption per day (mAs)
2″ EPD, black/white2.332.3205.4127.05
2″ Reflective LCD0.35Always onAlways on = 0.35(*2) 30,24030,240
(*1) EPD consumes power when screen is refreshed. Reflective LCD (RLCD) always consumes power to keep the image on screen.
(*2) Due to always-on, the power consumption of a RLCD is counted with 24 hours.
(*3) We assume the update time is 5 updates per day with an EPD and RLCD takes 24 hours as always on feature.