Pervasive Displays combines touch with e-paper displays for ultra-low power human-machine interface solutions

2 Aug 2022

Tainan City, Taiwan – 2 August 2022. After the launch of the EPD (e-paper displays) Extension Kit Gen 3 (EXT3) in 2021, Pervasive Displays introduces two new boards: the EPD Extension Kit Gen 3 revision 1 (EXT3-1) is an improved revision of the EPD Extension Kit Gen 3 (EXT3) and incorporates the feed-back received from the customers; the Touch Expansion Board for EXT3 (EXT3-Touch) is an expansion board for touch. Those boards are placed between the e-paper screen and the host micro-controller.

 

The EPD Extension Kit Gen 3 revision 1 (EXT3-1) focuses on ease of use and simplifies the connections by keeping only the active signals and reduces the number of pins to 12 from 20 in the initial board. Similarly, the jumper for selecting the capacitance has been simplified and is now only required for panels larger than 5”. The EXT3-1 supports the entire range of iTC ultra-low power e-paper displays, monochrome and tri-colour (black-white-red), from the 1.54″ Aurora to the 12″ Spectra.

The EXT3-1 keeps the 1 Mbyte / 8 Mbit Flash memory and the expansion pad for additional memory (Flash or SRAM) if the application requires it. For example, the Flash can store fonts or images, and the SRAM can be used for the frame-buffer, in case the host micro-controller has limited memory.

 

The Touch Expansion Board for EXT3 (EXT3-Touch) opens a new dimension for EPDs. Instead of being passive, they can now act as input devices for human machine interface (HMI). This is a perfect configuration for ultra-low power IoT remote controls. The EXT3-Touch exposes 4 pins for the touch controller, and 3 ZIF connectors specifically placed for the 2.71″ and 3.70″ iTC screens with touch.

A 34-way flat cable (FFC) connects the EXT3-Touch to the EXT3-1. To save space and ensure stability, the EXT3-1 could be placed on top of the EXT3-Touch and secured with spacers.

Both the EXT3-1 and the EXT3-Touch provision standard 0.1″-spaced holes for each signal. This allows to solder male pins to use the boards on a breadboard or to connect measurement equipment like an oscilloscope or a logic analyzer.

 

The software has been updated accordingly. Driver firmware is available for each EPD and touch controller as open-source license-free examples. The Pervasive Displays Library Suite (PDLS) fully supports touch and brings a complete set of GUI elements to ease the design of a human machine interface.

Extensive documentation complements the PDLS to reduce time-to-market development time: a reference manual lists all the functions and their respective parameters; and a user manual includes commented examples, applications notes and reference designs.

 

With this new offer of the EXT3-1 and the EXT3-Touch, combined with the PDLS and the available documentation, Pervasive Displays further increases the attractiveness of the e-paper technology and inaugurates new solutions for smart home, factory automation, industrial, commercial and retail applications where low power is critical.

Compared to the traditional TN/STN technology, e-paper brings an ultra-low power alternative, as it requires no power to keep the image on screen. The application stays in low-power mode until is awaken by an interaction with the capacitive touch. Partial update is fast enough for a responsive interface. Optionally, an external haptic device can enhance the user experience by providing a touch feed-back.

“The combination of touch and e-paper display opens a new world of possibilities for ultra-low power applications. The new EXT3-1 and EXT3-Touch boards provide a simpler way of evaluating the many features and benefits of EPD technology for human machine interface applications,” says Charming Su, Senior VP at Pervasive Displays. “The available libraries and documentation make evaluation and development easier and reduces the customer’s time-to-market.”

The different kits featuring the EXT3-1 and the EXT3-Touch help engineers to discover and assess E ink e-paper technology, compare it to other display technologies, test different host micro-controllers and memory configurations, evaluate different screen sizes and colours, before making final decisions.

Kits with 2.71” or 3.70” touch panels are available at Mouser and Digi-key. The EPDK-Touch bundle combining an EXT3-1, EXT3-Touch, 2.71” touch panel and Raspberry Pi Pico will also be available at Amazon and SparkFun in Q3 2022 later soon.

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