Talk of the “paperless office” has been around since the dawn of computing, but in reality it has never come close to fruition. Will Fujitsu’s latest evolution of electronic paper change that? Probably not, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
As you can see from the photo above, one of the oldest problems of epaper has been overcome: it’s bendable. What’s more Fujitsu claims text and images are not distorted when this is done, while an “image memory function” enables continuous display of the same image without the need for electricity (a miniscule amount of power is required to change on screen information). As for the information itself, Fujitsu boasts that it has developed a method of transferring this wirelessly from laptops, mobile phones and PDAs.
Now all this sounds just groovy in theory, but how is it going to be used in practice? Well, initially the company is targeting commercial applications such as transit advertising, shelf display tags, restaurant menus and operating manuals. Basically areas where content is likely to change on a regular basis.
Where does this leave the rest of us? Quite frankly, who knows? Commercial availability been set for between April 2006 and March 2007 and its success or failure will no doubt depend on price, compatibility and – quite frankly – if we can be arsed to get our heads around something more complicated that our trusty bleached, flattened wood pulp.
Personally speaking, at this stage the Fujitsu epaper feels more like a gimmick and any practical transition would also be torturously slow. On the plus side the potential is there for all to see and it would spell the end for printers.
Tell you what, the moment we can make paper aeroplanes out of this stuff I'll be right behind it. Can't say fairer than that?