Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
Cambridge, Massachusetts-based E Ink Holdings, an ePaper and Electronic Shelf Label company that we met for the first time at #dse2013 has introduced two new products: E Ink Spectra, believed to be the world’s first three pigment electronic paper featuring black, white and red pigments, and E Ink Aurora, a first-of-its-kind electronic paper display able to withstand freezers’ temperatures.
By using electronic shelf labels with E Ink’s technology, retailers have the ability to change pricing strategies as needed in real time, allowing them to stay one step ahead of competitors while attracting consumers based on changing market conditions. Spectra allows retailers to elevate the impact of their ESLs, by adding colour to logos and quickly directing consumers’ attention to important information, such as product sales and promotions.
“The three pigment system is a major achievement for E Ink, and a technological accomplishment in our industry,” says Giovanni Mancini, director of product management, E Ink. “As the first product line to feature this advanced ink, Spectra provides retailers with the same visual and power savings attributes of our black and white ESL products, with the option of adding a third colour to highlight promotions or other relevant information.”
“The addition of colour was something requested by many of our customers,” says Niclas Qvist, head of marketing and global partner management at Pricer, Electronic Shelf Label solution provider, Atlanta. “Pricer uses E Ink’s e-paper in all our graphic products today. E Ink and Pricer are leading the way by giving shoppers the best in-store experience with clear and easy to read price tags. Product development is guided by market feedback and the first products will be developed in close cooperation with both E Ink and selected customers.”
Scott Soong, CEO of Pervasive Displays, Wilsonville, Oregon, says “Adding colour to electronic paper is an effective advancement to this technology. Colour adds the benefit of being able to quickly draw attention to specific messages. In retail, red is prevalent for promotions; in other industries red is used for exception management. The ability to quickly discern the importance of a message is critical in any environment.”
Spectra will support both active matrix and segmented format ESLs, making it the ideal product for a range of retail applications. The three pigment EPD is also appropriate for industrial, smart card and medical market applications, where Spectra can be used to display information on electronic identification badges.
While the eReader market continues to be an important part of E Ink’s business and the company remains committed to the eReader product line, over the past few years E Ink has invested resources into supporting different applications across markets.
“We have always been fortunate to have high customer demand for our electronic paper displays for non-eReader applications,” says Mancini. “The results of our investments will be evident in 2013 as more non-eReader products using E Ink EPDs are released into the market.”
E Ink Aurora, the electronic paper display able to withstand freezers temperatures, provides retailers and business owners with greater flexibility and a more efficient solution in managing pricing strategies for products sold in freezers and cold outdoor climates.
Providing low power usage and cost optimization through a 5-volt driving capability, Aurora supports applications in conditions as cold as -25 C. In addition, Aurora has been tuned for non-eReader applications, and is ideal for electronic shelf labels and smart cards in the retail, medical and logistics markets.
“With the integration of a low temp film, we can finally install our ESL solution into all departments in a grocery or convenience store,” says Mike Waters, Opticon Inc., Renton, Washington. “To date, we’ve lacked the technical capability to operate our wireless shelf tags inside a freezer, limiting the opportunities to completely eliminate manual paper price changes. Opticon will now be able to offer a line of IP rated freezer tags in 2″, 2.7″, 4.41″, and 7.4″ form factors.”
Soong of Pervasive Displays, says, “The new Aurora product from E Ink extends the reach of electronic paper to cold chain applications, signage, automotive and a myriad of additional industries, unlocking new ROI potential for e-paper applications.”
“Inaccurate prices are one of consumers’ major gripes when shopping at supermarkets,” says E Ink’s Mancini. “With an average of close to 40,000 items carried in supermarkets, effective price management can become a herculean task. At E Ink we believe that ESLs not only cut down on the instances of mislabelled information, but also can ultimately help retail stores maximize profits.”
Aurora will be available to partners and customers starting in July, 2013. Spectra will be available in Q3 2013.