16 Jul 2007
New opportunities in applications exploiting e-paper's unique properties will boost the global market, according to a new report.
The arrival of color e-paper technology, combined with the ability to print large e-paper displays, will drive applications for the technology, says a new report from NanoMarkets. Key applications will be in smart shelves, point-of-purchase displays and cell phone displays.
"Most e-paper technologies can already meet the technical requirements that are usually considered necessary," comments the report. "The minimum basic necessities include 100 dpi resolution, but commercial e-paper is routinely achieving twice that performance, with 400 dpi possible. E-paper is also said to need minimum contrast ratios of above 6:1. But Kent Displays, one of the leading developers, already claims a contrast ratio of 25:1."
Markets in signage-related applications, where e-paper displays can be electronically updated in real time, will grow strongly. Low power consumption can allow such displays to be run from batteries, and they would be easy to fix onto shelves and walls. By 2014 this sector is expected to be worth $1.2 billion.
Mobile phone sub-displays, and eventually main displays, also offer a high-volume opportunity. The readability of e-paper in bright sunlight provides an advantage that no other display technology can provide, and Motorola has already been quite successful with its Motophone, the first cell phone to utilize e-paper. As a result, the cell phone sector will generate $763 million by 2014.
The report emphasizes the importance of color in enabling e-paper to penetrate new market segments. "The first developer able to commercialize color e-paper at a reasonable price is likely to grab a huge share of the market," it claims.
Although e-paper based on electrophoretic materials will continue to take the largest share of the market, both liquid crystals and electrochromic materials will grow in importance, each taking market shares of more than $1 billion by 2014.
The report identifies bulk and cost as the obstacles preventing e-paper from competing directly with display technologies such as LCD or OLEDs, along with other technical challenges which new developers must address. "E-paper displays could be larger, to address the market for large advertising, and improved encapsulation would expand the market for outdoor displays," it observes.
The report, "E-Paper Markets: An Eight-Year Market And Technology Forecast", is available from NanoMarkets.