Folding smartphones are slowly making their way into the mainstream. Could foldable e-readers be next? The E Ink Corporation, the company behind the digital paper tech found in the majority of e-readers, is trying to make it happen. The firm’s R&D lab has been developing foldable e-ink screens for a while, and its latest prototype clearly demonstrates the idea’s potential.
The video above comes from GoodEReader.com and shows a foldable e-reader prototype developed by E Ink. An earlier version came out in June, but the latest hardware adds a sturdier hinge, five dedicated buttons down the right hand side of the device, and two lightbars positioned at the top of the screen for illumination. There’s also integrated Wacom technology for taking notes, making annotations, and highlighting passages with a stylus.
The folding action looks smooth, even though the prototype hardware isn’t ready for the mainstream. GIF: GoodEReader.com
The overall concept is intriguing. As with folding smartphones, a foldable e reader promises more screen real estate in a smaller package. There’s also the pleasing familiarity of the folding format, making the device more like a book or notepad. Add in the capacity to take notes and sync reading material and you’d have an extremely useful bit of kit.
But it seems the technology is not quite there just yet. The bezels on this prototype are huge, the flip-up lightbars are reminiscent of gadgets from the 1990s, while note-taking on e-readers generally is still constrained by low latency. Using e-readers to take notes is certainly a growing market, but it’s not yet a seamless enough experience to overtake old fashioned pen and paper. Still, we’ll be watching the development of this tech with interest.