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An E-Ink screen replaces disposable paper tags on this smart luggage

While not as flashy as the color screen on your smartphone, E Ink displays are equally as interesting, and in many cases, much more versatile. When we say cases, we mean cases, because luggage company Rimowa has built an E Ink screen into a suitcase that’s ready to do away with those sticky paper tags used by airlines these days.

We got a chance to see the Rimowa case up close. Built into a relatively standard suitcase, Rimowa’s Electronic Tag is an E Ink Mobius display, which shows all the information needed by the airline — from departure and arrival points, the green bar necessary for European airport regulations, and the barcode ready for scanning as the bag moves around the world. It follow’s Vanguard’s E Ink luggage tag, which we saw way back in 2014.

E Ink technology is perfect for this kind of product. It requires very little power, and combined with a strong protective layer over the top, it’s resistant to shock, moisture, humidity, cold, heat, and accidental destruction — all of which affect the paper tags we all use today. If you’re wondering about the power consumption, the E Ink screen only uses power when it changes what’s displayed, and the battery inside is good for hundreds, if not thousands of changes before it require replacement. Even then, it’s only a coin cell battery, which is cheap and easy to replace.

The convenience factor of an E Ink screen isn’t only for airlines. Imagine getting the information sent to your bag when you use an app to check-in before heading to the airport — that’s what the Rimowa case and it’s clever screen offer. The tag communicates using Bluetooth, and may help to shorten queues at airports even more. At the moment, it’s only Lufthansa that supports the E Ink tags, but we’re told an American carrier will be making an announcement in the next few weeks.

Before embracing the future of air travel, there’s the cost to consider. Rimowa hasn’t put a price on the case yet, but it’s luggage costs from $500 up, so it’s unlikely to be cheap. Sales are expected to begin in January.

While the Rimowa E Ink case was being rolled away, we got the chance to see a few other quirky products that make use of the screen. The first was Wove’s unusual, chunky bracelet with its 1040 x 200 pixel screen, which stretches around the wearable’s circumference. The multi-touch screen controls a custom version of Android, and the whole device is made using high-tech flexible electronics. It was still a prototype, with a non-working display that simply cycled through concept art and functionality. The final version is expected to go on sale later this year.

We also spotted Sony’s Fes E Ink watch that shows off different designs on demand and PopSlate’s E Ink iPhone case, which we’d heard about last year.

E Ink screens may be most often seen on the front of a Kindle ebook reader, but the technology is really exciting, and companies are still only scratching the surface of its potential. We’re excited to see these prototypes go on sale, and for the next wave of creative projects from E Ink and its partners.

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