Plastic Logic has demonstrated color flexible screen

  • Flexible color screen
  • Flexible color screen

May 14, at the main office of RUSNANO presentation of Plastic Logic — Technology Open Day. Perhaps this is one of the most interesting presentations in which I had to visit. And that, in fact, been shown and "backgrounds." But — first things first.


Background: The scandal with the school reader Plastic Logic 100

For the first time the object of attention of the Russian public company Plastic Logic was in 2011. August 18 RUSNANO CEO Anatoly Chubais introduced to Vladimir Putin Plastic Logic e-book 100. Reeder was created specifically for Russian schools by Plastic Logic under the wing of RUSNANO.

Reader feature from the point of view of the consumer qualities was in the big screen, low weight and minimal traumatic, as the split screen is very difficult, and even if it works — no broken glass will not (why — this, too, we’ll talk.) However, against the bad, in fact, developing not worked the best reputation RUSNANO (which the attitude of the people skeptical and ironic), as well as journalists and Channel RIA Novosti, who persistently called novelty in their reporting "planshetnikov" and "Tablet PC" . The word "tablet" is clearly associated with the iPad. A device is represented by Chubais black and white, can not show the video, and in general, obviously, refers to another type of device — this reader E-Ink, but not iPad.

By the way, Chubais at a meeting with Putin, never uttered the word "tablet" (which can be seen on transcript), But could not resist did it in his blog. Inaccurate positioning caused a storm of criticism and doubts about the feasibility (at least, is what I said softly.) In the end, we all remember the recent epic fail with a "Russian iPhone" MTS 945, which was branded Chinese smartphone, with inadequate because of inflated prices in the market would not have lasted a year. It, by the way, is also represented by Putin. In general, all played against the novelties presented by Chubais, and, of course, came under fire and Plastic Logic.

We must give: Chubais’s reaction to criticism and in a few days to prepare detailed answers most of the questions. Answers are correct, competent and comprehensive (although the comments under the post show that not all readers of this convinced, however, most skeptics technically illiterate, that too should be taken into account). But somehow, Chubais said about the prospects of plastic electronics in general, promising to return to the issue in two-three years. And because of that went unanswered the main question: what made RUSNANO to spend for a British company Plastic Logic 300 million dollars to attract investment and to guarantee a further $ 100 million (the news of this published one month after the public presentation Plastic Logic 100). The question was very serious, because, after all, no one, even the most advanced reader such money is not worth it.

We can say that the answer to this question has been painful yesterday, May 14.

The history and technology of Plastic Logic

The event was attended by:

  • Peter Kitchin (Piter Kitchin), vice-president of the Technology Centre, University of Cambridge;
  • Peter Fisher (Peter Fischer), vice president for process design;
  • GEMM David (David Gammie), senior development manager for displays in Plastic Logic;
  • Banak Mike (Mike Banach), Senior Research Manager at Plastic Logic.

Speakers told the story of the company. Plastic Logic was founded in 2000 to work in the field of plastic electronics. Preceded the creation of a decade of research that made it possible to use plastic instead of silicon.

Below is a slide that describes the organic thin-film transistors — the basic technology of Plastic Logic.

We will not go into the scientific nuances of these technologies. We only note that, globally, it is fundamentally different from existing technology for creating displays, giving a completely new features (in addition, of course, with the new restrictions).

Main advantages: the ability to create flexible, ultra-thin and resistant to external influences displays without LED backlighting, as well as flexible displays that can show video. Below clearly shows which way in the field of improvement of technology (for practical use), was passed Plastic Logic.

Now the main problem: to start working with RUSNANO Plastic Logic has not made a single batch of commercial devices. The only product that has the final shape of the device has been shown by at CES 2010 — it was called The Que ProReader and represented the school is just a prototype reader Plastic Logic 100. Novelty, apparently, did not cause much interest in a broad sell and not received (although stated that the reader will be available in April 2010). Is it possible that the Plastic Logic did not have enough funds to run the serial production.

It is not known how things would have developed the fate of Plastic Logic, if they do not accept the RUSNANO Corporation. In the same 2010 RUSNANO acquired 33.7% of the company, and in 2011 increased its stake to 48.3%. Total investments (including funds of foreign investors attracted by RUSNANO) was $ 700 million. It is important that this money will be used including for the construction of the largest (and the first commercial) of the plant to establish a plastic electronics, which will be placed in Zelenograd.

So, for the sake of clarity again briefly clarify the role of RUSNANO. Russian Corporation did not create the technology itself, and even the only currently ready device (reader Plastic Logic 100) was already almost ready before RUSNANO has invested in a British company (after this was done only part of the revision of the software). But there was no mass production and application of technological developments. That is what made possible by RUSNANO.

However, it is clear that RUSNANO participated in this not for the sake of reader, and the reader — this is just the beginning (and possibly attempt to justify in the eyes of the public such investments — as we can see, not very successful). Since the Plastic Logic 100 although it has some nice qualities, he nevertheless does not "wow effect" and does not reflect the full benefits of Plastic Logic. Quite another thing — flexible screens, which were demonstrated to journalists May 14 this year.

Demonstration of flexible screens

What has been shown? Now all describe — and as proof of the qualities present videos, which you can see everything with your own eyes (apologize in advance for the poor quality: survey was conducted with hands on Smartphone Samsung Galaxy Nexus i9250). We emphasize that,
except for the above-mentioned repeatedly Reader Plastic Logic 100 at the presentation was not ready devices — only screens. Therefore, the specific technical characteristics (such as screen resolution and the exact size of the screen) to speak prematurely — if only because, in the final devices (when fitted will be), they can be quite different — and for the worse, and the better (even if the technology will advance below).

Most of the screens have been demonstrated in black and white (or rather, I would have talked about the shades of gray, as in the case of the E-Ink). Being similar to this parameter, they differed on other characteristics. For example, I was able to compare the screens of the same size, but different resolution.

I must say that if look closely, the difference is noticeable. The letters on the screen, lower resolution are not as clear as if blurry and zamylennye. The display higher resolution text looks like printed.

Around screens lay special scanner (looks like a light bulb). He was connected to the laptop and allows you to see one piece of a flexible screen on which it was imposed, in a very high magnification. Thus, it was possible to visualize the difference between one and the other displays. This is shown in our video:

Note that both the screen — a really flexible. Feels like they are about as laminated page of the paper. That is not folded in half, twist into a tube is theoretically possible, but with effort, but just bend in different directions — it is quite possible. The image is not updated, so even without any visible defects (such as divorce or something like that).

Next, was shown a very thin screen. True, he was a little defective from top to bottom were black stripes. However, the company explained that the specimen was placed in a laboratory where there was not the necessary conditions (sterility, etc.). And if you do these screens at the plant that meets the requirements, then this problem will not happen. Well, believe, but most importantly — are amazed at how the screen really thin and flexible. Here it just really can be twisted into a tube without any doubts and fears. Here is a video as a proof of our words.

Well, what would happen if you had damage to the screen? The answer to this question was given in the form of two very spectacular examples. The first example — display, with a thick perforated with an awl (or something similar). It still worked! However, from the hole were two dark stripes down and sideways. Second example — even more striking. The representative of the Plastic Logic our eyes with scissors cut the screen in half, almost to the edge. The screen at the same time working on, and after the execution of the same image updated (both halves), as before. Do not believe me? Watch the video.

Further, was shown the screen displaying the video. As you know, the screen refresh rate — one of the weaknesses of E-Ink technology and others like her. The above screens also suffer from this drawback (although given their other characteristics, such as language does not turn to call it a disadvantage). So, there is at Plastic Logic achievements in this direction. The samples shown on the video really shows, however, the quality was low and the image size — small. And, of course, the entire image — in shades of gray. But the important fact.

Now on to the color screen. But first, let us remember about a company like Qualcomm, which promotes technology mirasol. In fact, this E-Ink color screen that has the same characteristics as the usual black-and-white screen E-Ink, but also allows the backlight to display different colors, and moreover, shows a higher update rate. Last year in South Korea began selling first with a screen reader mirasol, and in January of this year, reader was shown at the CES show in Las Vegas. Why do we remember about it? Because color screens Plastic Logic — this is largely a movement in the same direction. And they have drawbacks, mainly the same. But it has a big advantage: at Plastic Logic flexible screens.

Here, however, we must remember that Qualcomm has introduced this technology into production, and there is a commercial product with its use (though, judging by the fact that it is sold only in South Korea, we can assume that the company can not provide large shipments or making the device at a loss, purely for the image). Whereas at Plastic Logic currently only have the screen itself. And when he had come to the finished commercial devices — hard to say for sure. But, nevertheless, it is striking is that it is possible in principle. See our video.

The density of dots per inch with a color screen — 75 dpi. Permission to display color pictures — 640×480. A little bit. Therefore, the image is not very high quality. Clearly visible mesh, and of color, of course, it is too far from what we are used to LCD screens. Number of colors — only 4096. And, of course, the video is not yet possible because the screen refresh rate is low. However, again, the very fact that turned out to make a color flexible electrophoretic display, quite revolutionary.

We note one minus all displayed screens. They are glossy and very light (it is, in general, can be seen in all the commercials.) It is clear that you can use the anti-glare coating, but since the screen is not normal (or rather, having different properties), it is possible that there may be uncovered some nuances.

Finally, the most painful question: when will be ready products (at least in the form of exhibition samples)? Representatives of the Plastic Logic nothing specific to this question is not answered, but argue about the readiness of the screens for mass production. And with support for RUSNANO and construction of the plant in Zelenograd, it is hoped that the output devices of the series in the offing. At the very least, really want to believe it.

Conclusions and Future Outlook

There is no doubt that the flexible screens, but still have the ability to operate even after the injury, can get the most widely used in various fields of human activity. This and mobile devices (the most obvious application), and the educational sphere and the sphere of entertainment and advertising, and, of course, the military sphere (imagine a GPS-navigator in the form of a full-sized card that can be rolled into a tube and put in a backpack, and who continues to work even after it was hit or fragment of shell!). Most likely, if the technology will evolve and improve, that is, the screens will become a better, and cheaper (and exactly what happens when things are not rested in a technological ceiling), a few years later flexible screens will surround us everywhere. For example, instead of a paper calendar, we will hang on a wall calendar in the form of a flexible screen (which will automatically change the number on the right, and allow to set reminders, etc.). By the way, one and a half years ago we article about video ads in magazines made an assumption about the further progress in this area:

Imagine a magazine in which each page is entirely would be a touch screen, but it would have the flexibility and thickness of not much more than a typical glossy pages. And in the spine in such a magazine would be all electronic filling and internet module that allows you to download the built-in memory or that interactive content (or load it as needed from the cloud). Accordingly, readers would receive fundamentally different possibilities: increase the photos, watch videos, upload some more content and more. At the same time it preserves the sense of the usual magazine (except the touch page would be a little different).

Then it seemed, rather, fantasies, not backed by evidence in the form of real prototypes of the very pages. Today, we see that this is already a reality. Simply put, such a magazine could be collected tomorrow, using a flexible screens Plastic Logic, — except that the pages will not touch (which, as you know, is only a matter of time). But this is only one example. And by the way, the proof of what the future — much closer than we think.

May 15, 2012
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  • Author

Sergey Uvarov

 

I’m sorry, but do not know how to embed videos. If anyone can help — I will be grateful.


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