Could disposable e-readers be in the near future?

Disposable Nooks and Kindles may one day become as commonplace as throwaway cameras, thanks to a discovery by an engineering professor at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Electrical engineering professor Dr. Andrew Steckl discovered that paper is actually similar to glass in host material capability. He used a process called electrowetting (which adds electric fields to colour droplets), a variation of the technology behind current e-ink screens.

After demonstrating his findings so far, Steckl predicts that the displays on the paper would be fast, full-colour and would last a user up to seven days before needing to be binned.

However, only certain types of paper have proved to work and the fabrication technique is quite fiddly, but the impact a paper e-reader would have is enormous. Not only would the reader be easier to store (it could be folded up and shoved in your pocket) but also cheap and environmentally friendly.

If this technology takes off, it could be applied to not just e-books too, so looks like the newspaper and magazine scene could be revived once more. Steckl is now looking for a commercial investor to develop the device further. If he gets this, expect to see this tech available to consumers in as little as three years time.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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