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Japan Targets New Electronic Paper Technology

4 Aug, 2005 By: Tetsuo Kubo imageSource

Japan Targets New Electronic Paper Technology

As paper print outs continually
increase in Japan and more paper is disposed of after usage, the development of
electronic paper has become increasingly more important for the country’s
environment. In addition, people have been looking forward to electronic paper
because it’s easier to handle and read, and it allows companies to handle
greater volumes of information.

In order to respond to such needs, the Japan Business Machine and Information
System Industries Association (JBMIA) held its second Electronic Paper Symposium
in Shinagawa, Tokyo in April. Electronic Paper Talk of JBMIA (32 companies have
joined) has been annually researching trends in the market for electronic paper,
and has held symposiums to report its results.

At the opening of the symposium, Mr. Iwai, managing director of JBMIA said,
“Electronic paper is a typical tool and medium for Ubiquitous Collaboration (UC).
We expect discussions on how this will evolve in the new UC market and we
anticipate that this will be evolving as a new industry.”

Also, Mr. Takahashi, an honorary professor of Tokai University and the chair of
the Electronic Paper Talk added, “This year, we made a working group, and have
been studying from the viewpoint of what will be required for electronic paper
to become the third medium. Since we will have many panels on paper mediums, we
hope to hear suggestions on what is required of electronic paper to be a real

Electronic paper technologies have been developed by copier manufacturers and
display manufacturers. Fuji Xerox exhibited its E-Paper Photo, optical writable
type electronic paper, at JBMIA’s Paper Symposium.

Fuji Xerox has been developing E-Paper as a tool easy to handle and easy to read
just like paper. There are two types: optical writable type using liquid crystal
and toner display type using toners. The company exhibited and demonstrated
optical writable type.

E-Paper Photo is constructed of two films: a liquid crystal layer and an optical
electronic conductive layer, which produces a thin, light and flexible form.
With easy operation, it can be rewritten instantaneously and there is almost no
copy cost to write. If short life copy/print outputs can be replaced from paper
to E-Paper Photo, it would reduce usage of paper resources and would be useful
for the environment.

Speed to write on E-Paper Photo is 0.2 seconds and it can be rewritten more than
10,000 times. With high display contrast, it is as natural to read as paper and
the image can be kept for more than one year with no power supply. In the demo
system, they showed almost no image degradation on the newspaper copy that was
recorded two years ago.

However, it is weak to high temperature that destroys liquid crystal alignment.
Using the same method, the company displayed eight-color display film in card
size that is currently at the laboratory testing level.

Mr. Mita, manager of the Advanced Device Laboratory for Fuji Xerox said the
E-Paper Photo application “is suitable for hospital examination cards, writing
to the surface of miscellaneous IC cards, or notice boards that are often
rewritten, such as signboards used for factory production processes.”

Japan Domestic Copier Shipment Results

JBMIA announced the first quarter (January through March 2005) copier shipment
results. Color MFPs are still showing an outstanding increase, and recorded the
highest results both in units and amounts in the domestic market on a quarterly
basis. Color MFPs have reached 30 percent in units and 52 percent in revenue in
Japan’s domestic market.

For the overseas market, digital copiers have made a 24 percent increase
compared to the same period last year to 642,000 units in shipments, and color
copiers increased 2 percent to 74,000 units.

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