E-paper display coming to cellphones
NTT DoCoMo engineers have taken a look at the traditional cellphone button layout and decided it just isn’t good enough, and are currently toying with the idea of developing a keypad that changes icons depending on the current application in use. This e-paper concept has already been built into a prototype that was paraded at the recent CEATEC 2007 event in Japan. These displays from SiPix Imaging are currently unavailable for commercialization in cellphones just yet as there are still some kinks left to iron out.
This prototype handset features an e-paper keypad that is capable of switching its display dynamically on each key, changing from numbers to Japanese phonetic characters known as hiragana and katakana depending on the current application being used. Take for example, whenever a user opens an email client, the keypad will automatically switch from its numeric format to phonetic characters, making it much easier to compose a message instead of typing it out the old and much more tedious way. Hopefully such a development will make cellphone usage more user friendly for its customers, in particular the older generation who find it hard to compose even a single text message.
Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done at this point in time. Before it can be incorporated into the handset, the technology must be improved further with special attention being paid to the response time of the e-paper display so that icons and symbols used with each key change will be faster whenever you switch between applications. It is currently too slow for that, so keep your fingers crossed those engineers will be able to figure out something in the near future. DoCoMo also has plans to switch from segmented e-paper displays to an active matrix display in future prototypes that breaks down the limits in displaying pre-set characters, numbers, and symbols.
Source: Yahoo! Tech