Paper-thin e-readers: Harry Potter magic becomes reality

electrowetting-demonstration-e-paperWhile the moving pictures in Harry Potter newspapers are magic, a breakthrough in display technology could make paper-thin, disposable e-readers a reality. DNA reports that University of Cincinnati researchers may soon come up with disposable e-reading devices that, in theory, could perform actions similar to an Amazon Kindle, but on actual paper.

Andrew Steckl, an engineering researcher at the university, discovered the new paper-based display technology. Along with UC doctoral student Duk Young Kim, Steckl demonstrated that paper can be used as a flexible material for an electrowetting device. Electrowetting involves applying an electric current to millions of tiny droplets within a display to form images, much like how thousands of pixels make up computer and HDTV screens. Previously, glass was needed for electrowetting.

“Nothing looks better than paper for reading,” said Steckl. “We hope to have something that would actually look like paper but behave like a computer monitor in terms of its ability to store information. We would have something that is very cheap, very fast, full-color and at the end of the day or the end of the week, you could pitch it into the trash.”

E Ink, the technology used in Amazon’s Kindle and other e-reader devices, is a main competitor, but Steckl argues that electrowetting is up to 10 times faster than E Ink and could produce refresh rates high enough to reasonably play moving video, something that current E Ink technology has a difficult time with. He also believes that hard-screened E Ink devices are too expensive and fragile. However, E Ink has a bit of a head start. It may be three to five years before Electrowetting e-paper makes its first commercial appearance.

Now, all we can hope is that our moving e-paper will look more like those at Hogwarts and less like the constantly singing cereal boxes in Minority Report. No one wants to listen to Toucan Sam follow his every time they open the cupboard.

Emerging Tech

With cameras that know dogs from Dodges, Honda is making intersections safer

Honda and the city of Marysville, Ohio are working on creating a smart intersection. The goal would not only help better direct the flow of traffic, it could also help save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists.
Mobile

The Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof, so now you can read it in the tub

Amazon released a new version of the Kindle Paperwhite ebook reader, boasting improved software, more storage, and a feature that customers have been asking for: Waterproofing.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Deals

These 30 Amazon Coupons can help you save on the things you need

Did you know there are thousands of Amazon Coupons and promo codes that you can take advantage of? We found coupons for everything from tech to everyday products. Find out what savings you've been missing out on.
Mobile

Kobo’s upcoming ebook reader is bigger, lighter, and not afraid of water

Kobo has debuted its latest ebook reader, and it's called the Kobo Forma. The company's new device is not only waterproof, but it's the copany's lightest and most durable yet. It can be pre-ordered starting October 16.
Emerging Tech

Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Boston Dynamics wants to see Spot in the workplace, but not as part of take-your-dog-to-work days. Quite the opposite, in fact, as the technology company believes its extraordinary robo-dog is now ready to start work.
Emerging Tech

Regular paints and plastics will soon be able to ‘heal’ like skin

Imagine if paints, plastics, or other coatings could heal up like human skin in the event that they suffered damage. Thanks to researchers at Clemson University, such technology is almost here.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how Microsoft’s Hololens is helping NASA build the new Orion spacecraft

Lockheed Martin is turning to Microsoft’s mixed reality Hololens smartglasses to help build NASA's Orion spacecraft, which could one day help rocket astronauts as far afield as Mars.
Emerging Tech

Shrimp eyes inspire new camera focused on helping self-driving cars see better

By mimicking the vision of mantis shrimp, researchers were able to make significant improvements on today’s commercial cameras. They hope their technology can help mitigate accidents by letting self-driving vehicles see more clearly.
Emerging Tech

This intelligent parachute system can bail out clumsy drone pilots

Parachutes can save drones when they unexpectedly fall from the sky. Among a number of such systems, Austrian firm Drone Rescue is this week showing off its latest design that automatically deploys when it senses trouble.
Cars

‘Bloodhound’ rocket car needs a speedy cash injection to survive

The rocket-powered Bloodhound car has driven into difficulties, with the company behind the project needing a multi-million-dollar cash injection to save its dream of attempting a 1,000 mph land speed record.
Emerging Tech

Tokyo robotic warehouse needs almost no human workers

Uniqlo has unveiled its first robot-powered warehouse that requires 90 percent fewer human workers to operate. The Japanese clothing giant plans to invest close to $1 billion dollars to convert all of its warehouses worldwide.
Emerging Tech

Curious how A.I. 'brains' work? Here's a super-simple breakdown of deep learning

What is deep learning? A branch of machine learning, this field deals with the creation of neural networks that are modeled after the brain and adept at dealing with large amounts of human-oriented data, like writing and voice commands.
Emerging Tech

Drop everything and watch Boston Dynamics’ robo-dog dance to ‘Uptown Funk’

After a few years of Earthbound training, Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot dog is ready to take on Mars. Bruno Mars, to be precise. Check out Skynet's future pet as you've never seen it before.