E-ink screens are changing the way we read, and they’re becoming increasingly popular on smart phones and wearable gadgets. But what about flexible e-ink screens that can bend and curve into any shape or size? Sounds crazy, but the technology is already here. For their first release, flexible electronics company Polyera is launching Wove, a wearable gadget that’s basically a computer built like a slap bracelet that you can wrap around your wrist.
Wove may look like a smartwatch at first glance, but unlike other wearable touch screens, this one is capable of bending and twisting like a piece of paper. Most wearables are built to be durable and unyielding, so bending would be seen as a bad thing — but Wove is pioneering the development of electronics screens that flex by design.
Polyera has been working on the development of flexible screen technology for years, and first brought Wove to full project scale when co-founder Phil Inagaki had the idea for the device more than two years ago. Using Polyera’s patented digital fabric tech, Wove makes full use of the company’s many years of experience with flexible electronics, transistors, and displays.
One of the reasons e-ink screens hold so much potential is their low power requirements and long runtimes. Wove’s multi-touch display measures in at 1040 pixels by 200 pixels, and it can feature a customizable panel of applications that update constantly in the background, without requiring user interaction or extraneous battery usage.
Wove’s operating system is a pared-down version of the Android OS, and Polyera has already made the platform available to developers so that third parties can begin designing proprietary applications for the device. In addition to their work with more established app companies which will hopefully deliver familiar products for the Wove OS, Polyera’s prototype beta testing program is open to experienced programmers and developers who will be able to look under the proverbial hood and build the Wove experience from the ground up.
Polyera’s intention is for Wove to not only be a complete and engaging tool for more tech savvy users, but also a fun wearable for customers who might be more interested in the basic functionality of Wove’s flexible e-ink screen. Eventually, Wove is planning to integrate with fitness tracking programs and smartphone apps using native monitors that detect basic motions and count steps from within Wove itself.
Prototypes for the beta testing program will ship in mid-2016, so it may still be months before standard consumers can get their hands on a Wove wearable of their own. Polyera is already anticipating prices, of course, and even though the company hasn’t released any official figures, it’s promising that when Wove does become publicly available, the device will still “cost less than the least expensive Apple Watch”, according to a Tech Crunch interview. That means Wove will touch on all the most important concerns when it comes to new consumer electronics: a pioneering technology offering, an affordable price tag, and battery life to outlast any iOS 9 mobile device.