[Interview] Brother Industries Debuts E-paper in Academic World

Aug 21, 2008
Takuya Otani, Nikkei Electronics
The e-paper terminal developed by Brother Industries
The e-paper terminal developed by Brother Industries
[Click to enlarge image]
It is only 12.4mm thick.
It is only 12.4mm thick.
[Click to enlarge image]
The program book of the PPIC '08 (left) and the e-paper terminal (right)
The program book of the PPIC '08 (left) and the e-paper terminal (right)
[Click to enlarge image]
The e-paper terminal displaying the same page as the program book
The e-paper terminal displaying the same page as the program book
[Click to enlarge image]
The text on the terminal is almost the same size as that in the materials if the terminal is used in landscape orientation.
The text on the terminal is almost the same size as that in the materials if the terminal is used in landscape orientation.
[Click to enlarge image]
Multifunction printers can be used to scan and transmit data to the e-paper terminal, for example, in the future (image of the application)
Multifunction printers can be used to scan and transmit data to the e-paper terminal, for example, in the future (image of the application)
[Click to enlarge image]

Materials provided at academic conferences are always thick and take up much space. On the other hand, browsing data stored on a CD-ROM or USB memory device is hard on the eyes and requires power for notebook PCs. Electronic paper can be considered as one of the methods to deal with these complaints.

Brother Industries Ltd conducted a verification test in collaboration with Tokai University, which proposed the test, at "Pan-Pacific Imaging Conference '08 (PPIC '08)," an annual conference hosted by the Imaging Society of Japan, from June 25 to 27, 2008. The company displayed conference material data on its prototype e-paper terminals and had some conference attendees try them in the test.

Nikkei Electronics interviewed Norihisa Fujii, manager of the company's NID Research & Development Department and Takeo Terao of the Pre-Business Group in NID Research & Development Department at Brother Industries, about the outline of the verification test and the company's approach to e-paper devices. (Interviewer: Takuya Otani, Nikkei Electronics)

Q: Could you explain the outline of the verification test?

A: We prototyped an electronic paper terminal with a 9.7-inch screen. Its key features are the slimness of 12.4mm and the light-weight of 380g (including the battery). The terminal displays 1200 x 825 resolution monochrome image in four tones. Its definition is 150dpi. We procured the e-paper from outside and developed it into a terminal. We haven't disclosed the supplier of the e-paper, though*1.

*1: In light of the quality of the displayed image, E Ink Corp of the US appears to be the supplier of the electronic paper.

Preparing 20 units of theses terminals, we leased them to 20 people each day for monitoring during the three-day conference. In other words, we had them used by 60 people in total. We chose 60 people from the applicants to our prior call for monitors, ensuring that we had a good mix of age groups and genders on each day, for example.

The verification test was mainly aimed at two objectives. One is to examine the convenience of the terminal by gathering opinions from the monitors. The other is to promote research and development of e-paper by having a range of people recognize such an application of e-paper.

(Continue to the next page)