E-Ink Display Moves On-Screen Controls Off-Screen

Tablet computers have come a long way, long way. It finally seems like they’ve found their niche in the market, and now maybe they can catch up to more traditional computers. The Microsoft Applied Sciences division came up with a cool prototype design for a new tablet, one with a secondary e-ink input display.

The tablet interface makes use of e-ink strip above the keyboard. While it might not seem like much, this frees up a bunch of screen real estate, allowing you to have various icons and shortcuts off screen. It makes a ton of sense for digital artists as they can draw on the screen, but also have their toolkit open right below them — almost like real painting/drawing.

One of the other great uses for something like this is a signature pad — with everything going digital, when is the last time you had to print, sign, and scan a document back to someone? They even developed a dedicated email app you can use solely on the e-ink screen, allowing you to maximize the use of your main screen for something like a video chat.

The demo is pretty cool, and we often wonder why there aren’t more phones with e-ink displays integrated into them — is this just the beginning?

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Teardown: The Android-powered iPhone Case

Cellphones! Cellphone cases! Now that Radio Shack is kaput we need to pick up the slack!

A company named Oaxis has been making cell phone cases for a while now, and they’ve recently rolled out something rather interesting – a cell phone case with an e-ink screen. It’s an interesting idea and [Anton] did a teardown on two new releases. The first one just sends an image to an e-ink screen, and on paper, that’s all the second one does as well. There’s something special hidden under the hood, though: a low-end Android system. What an age to live in.

Something interesting happened when [Anton] was futzing with the battery for the e-ink iPhone case. Somehow, the device booted into recovery mode. Android recovery mode. Yes, iPhone cases now run Android.

Inside the e-ink iPhone case, [Anton] found a board with a Rockchip RK2818 SoC. This is the same chip that can be found in cheap Android cell phones. There’s only one button on the cell phone case, and connectivity is only provided by Bluetooth LE, but the possibilities for modding a cell phone case are extremely interesting.

Hacked Kobo Becomes a Weather Display

The Kobo e-reader has been hacked for a while now. It’s pretty easy to enable telnet access by modifying some files. Once [Kevin] was able to telnet into the device and draw to the display, he created the Kobo Wifi Weather Forecast. This hack was inspired by the Kindle weather display that we discussed in the past, but this version runs entirely on the Kobo.

The weather report software is written in Python using the pygame library. After loading the software package onto a Kobo, a few commands are run over telnet to set up Python and run the display. Since Python and pygame run on the Kobo, it allows for direct access to the e-ink display.

There’s a lot of possibilities for a internet connected e-ink device running custom graphics code. It’s asking to be turned into any kind of display you can imagine. What ideas do you have for a custom e-ink display? Let us know in the comments.

Doom II on epaper display

We love to see Doom ported to new hardware because it usually means that someone has found a way around the manufacturer’s security measures. But the most exciting thing for us to see this time is that Doom II is played on an epaper display. These are notorious for slow refresh rates, but as you can see in the video after the break, this one achieves an admirably fast page redraw.

According to a translation of the original forum post, the PocketBook 360° Plus boasts a 5″ E Ink Pearl screen, 533 MHz Freescale i.MX35 ARM11 processor, 128 Mb of RAM, 2 gigs of storage, and WiFi. No word on price for one of these babies as it seems they’ve not yet been release. Remind anyone of the green monochrome goodness from the original Game Boy?

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Hacking Electronic Price Tags

Something new is coming to a store near you: electronic price tags. [deadbird] decided to get one and see what makes it tick. First off it just looks like an LCD with some coin batteries and a simple board, but removing the batteries it was found that the text still appeared on the screen meaning its an E-Ink display.

Close examination of the chips on board shows that this model has an ATMEL ATMEGA16L, and a ATMEL952 25128AN (a 128k eprom with SPI interface), which makes this thing possible to bend to ones will. Also, dumping the eprom with an Arduino gets everyone a bit closer to decoding the instructions this thing needs to display its graphics, similar to the HP VFD hack we posted about not too long ago.

We have not seen these yet in our local shops, but give it time and it is bound to start popping up in our favorite surplus locations soon enough.

Kindle 2 teardown

kindle2

The people at iFixit have shown that they’re still on top of their game by tearing down the new Kindle 2 eBook reader. The main processor is a 532MHz ARM-11 from Freescale. Interestly, there isn’t any significant circuitry behind the large keyboard; it seems its existence is just to hide the battery.

Related: previous teardowns on Hack a Day

[via Make]

E Ink shows off the AM300 developer kit


The AM300 developer’s kit, shown in this video, has some pretty cool new features. It has the ability to show much faster animations than before, as well as having 16 bit gray scale image rendering and pen input. The animations look pretty quick, they mention this being useful for diagrams and advertisements. We just can’t wait to have our newspaper look like its covered with annoying flash banners and animated gifs.