Right now, you’re reading this, and you’re staring at your screen, and you’ve probably been doing this for the last 10 minutes, and you’re noticing that your eyes are becoming tired. Think about the light that you have in your room, and think about staring at that for 10 minutes straight. Now think about staring at millions of these lights, blinking dozens of times every second. I’ve recently been experiencing eye strain, and this affects a lot of the people I know. 

Is OLED the Answer? Not so fast! 

Most current TV technology works by back-lighting millions of pixels. Each pixel consists of three filters – red, green and blue. The newest technology called OLED generates its own light. This means the color is more accurate than LED displays, and there are faster response times. 

But rather than a revolutionary change in technology, this is just an incremental improvement. The principles behind OLED and LCD TVs are very similar, and most of the problems with LCD TV’s are not solved. 

The first problem with LCD/LED displays is when they’re outside in the sunlight. You’ve probably had this experience: On a sunny day, you take out your phone, and you try to read something, but it is too bright outside, and you’re having a hard time. You might have wished that you could increase the screen brightness even more. 

At the same time, you feel how hot the phone becomes when you hold it under the sun. When you set the phone screen to max brightness, it uses a lot of power, and then the battery drains very quickly. The screen uses around 40% of the phone’s battery, so Samsung and most other phone companies are trying to release phones with bigger batteries, but the underlying problem remains.

The second problem with LCD / LED displays is durability. Apple has released a new screen technology which they claim to be tougher than the current glass on iPhones. But this display is also more expensive. In contrast, the E-Ink display on the Yota phone will not crack or break, which is amazing given there’s just a thin protective layer. Some of the latest E-ink technology is completely bendable.

The question of what’s fake and whats real

Lets talk about real-ness, which is the opposite of fake-ness. A soup made from fresh ingredients is real-er than the soup made of MSG. Light from the sun is real-er than light from a florescent bulb. An E-ink screen is more real than a LCD/LED display. With an LCD display, you can tell that you’re looking at a screen. You won’t be able to tell an e-ink display from a photograph. Think about the paintings you see in art galleries, and imagine if they were moving paintings. Think about the photos you see in newspapers, and imagine that they were moving.

When your cell phone or computer is turned off, today you see an ugly black screen. What if you could unplug your computer monitor, and the screen would turn into a beautiful picture of mountains? E-ink never turns off. What if the screen of your cell phone went right to the edges of the phone. It would be like the iPhone X, but 10x better. Are you surprised that Apple has already patented E-ink screens, and they’re secretly working on developing it right now? Most of the other phone companies are already noticing.

Why E-ink everywhere is less than 5 years away

So E-ink is cheaper, more durable, and more real than LCD displays. But there are a couple technical challenges that need to be solved. First, E-ink color has to become much richer. Second, the refresh time has to become invisible to the eye. 

The first challenge will be solved by using better materials and through more experimentation. I see E-ink technology in various signage applications, such as advertising inside hockey arenas and outdoor billboards. 

The second challenge can be solved in various ways. We could divide a larger E-ink display into multiple screens of smaller sizes, stitched together. Refresh time is directly related to the area of the screen. For example, a 24x30cm screen can be split into twenty 6×6 screens, so the refresh time is reduced by a factor of twenty. The Chinese company Paperlike has solved this problem with a black-and-white E-ink monitor that is shipping in later this year.

E-ink won’t immediately replace existing technology such as LCD’s, because that would mean fighting against the kings. The first successful E-ink devices will be tablets, and they will open up technology to markets that the iPad are ignoring. For example, E-ink devices would be perfect for outdoor physical labor jobs, and would replace pen and paper clipboards.

Soon, the motion pictures industry will be using E-ink technology. Then after watching a movie, you walk down the street, and the advertisements are moving. There is huge money right now for anyone who develops E-ink technology. E-ink technology taking over is inevitable, which means that it will happen no matter what.