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Pulp Fiction? The Scoop on Electronic Paper

31 Jul, 2006 By: Tetsuo Kubo imageSource

Pulp Fiction? The Scoop on Electronic Paper

June 26, the Japan Business and Information Machine Industries Association (JBMIA)
held its “Third Electronic Paper Symposium” at Tokyo International Forum to
discuss the progress and applications of electronic paper. Considered by many to
be the medium of the future, electronic paper uses electronic ink to mimic the
appearance of regular ink on paper. It is bendable, lightweight, reflects light
like ordinary paper, and is capable of holding text and images indefinitely but,
unlike traditional paper which is discarded or recycled, electronic paper
rewrites on itself like turning the page of a book or switching pages on a
website. Can you imagine one sheet of electronic paper changing the way people
read books, newspapers, and view signage? And these are only a few of the
initial hopes for electronic paper.

In the beginning stages of actual realization, electronic paper is drawing
huge interest because of its technology and paperless possibilities. The
symposium resulted in a standing-room-only crowd of more than 220 with more than
30 related corporations in attendance. Initially started in 2003 as an informal
gathering of the Electronic Paper Committee, the symposium is comprised of
corporations, universities and research institutes. Demonstrations of a color
electronic paper developed by Fujitsu for semi-permanent display with no
battery, and an electronic paper display that Hitachi developed in cooperation
with Bridgestone, were highlights in the quest for a paperless environment.

at the symposium, an investigative group reported on their March inspection of
the European market. This included a report on the past year’s activities; a
presentation on the expected electronic paper functionalities; standardization
issues and an assay on electronic paper and the media. A panel discussion
entitled “What Is and Is Not Required for Electronic Paper” was also held with
panelists from publication companies such as Tokyo Shimbun newspaper.

In his opening speech, Mr. Tsubota, chair of the consortium (professor of
Keio Gijyuku University graduate school; Policy and Media Study Department)
declared, “Electronic paper attracts attention for paper resource conservation
and as a medium is easy to carry and bend. It is coming close to the stage of
realization, technology wise. Paper cannot offer the functionality to write
notes as freely, which I think will be a big feature for electronic paper.”

As to the trend in Europe, Mr. Hashimoto of Konica Minolta Technology Center
said, “In Europe, there are many small size newspaper companies who are
concerned about the decreasing number of readers. We expect the move to
electronic paper at this time. We foresee that electronic paper will break out
in 2007 and the market will be complete between 2010 and 2015. Already the
French paper Les Echos has announced that they would launch electronic paper
using an electronic paper terminal by the end of this year. An electronic book
terminal will also be launched.”

Who knows, in a few years down the line imageSource magazine might be
delivered through your computer straight to a single sheet of electronic paper.
The future isn’t that far away.

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