1. How does SmartPaper" work?
The Gyricon technology uses an array of tiny (100 micron diameter or smaller) solid beads with one hemisphere of each bead one color (e.g. white) and the other a different color (e.g. black). These beads are embedded in a flexible plastic sheet in small cavities surrounded by a liquid. Each bead carries an electrical charge. When an external electric field is applied the bead rotates or "gyrates" (hence the name Gyricon). Adhesive forces between each bead and cavity wall require an electrical threshold be exceeded before it will rotate. This makes an image electrically "printed" onto the material stable and unchanging until "erased" by another transmission. Electrical signals can be applied to the SmartPaper" sheets through fixed surface electrodes or a moving stylus.
2. What are the power requirements (drive voltage) for displays using SmartPaper"?
A networked programmable sign will run for up to 2 years on 3 AA batteries, with the power almost completely used by the communications and processing systems. SmartPaper" itself requires just a capacitance or voltage (about 100 volts), not a power current. Display battery power levels can be monitored by MaestroWare" software and does not limit remote control addressability and functionality.
3. What is the maximum viewing angle for SmartPaper"?
Unlike other types of electronic displays, SmartPaper" has a wide viewing angle identical to traditional printed signs. This allows SmartPaper" to be viewed like paper, from all angles and without added backlighting.
4. What is the maximum resolution of SmartPaper" (dpi)?
Images can currently be displayed on SmartPaper" with resolution over 100 dpi.
5. What will the resolution of SmartPaper" be a year from now?
We are currently producing signs that offer resolution at 100 dpi, but expect to improve the resolution over time to at least 300 dpi. However, even at 100 dpi our SmartPaper" offers substantially smooth-edged resolution to text and graphics: Hundreds of bichromal beads make up single "pixel" segments and electric fields have a smoothing effect.
6. What type of lighting does a display made with SmartPaper" use?
The image material used in SmartPaper" is reflective like paper or poster board, and is clearly readable in ambient light. Unlike some other displays, SmartPaper" does not require backlighting and images do not "wash-out" in fluorescent or bright lighting.
7. Do SmartPaper" images fade over time?
No, because they are based on pigments rather than dyes.
8. What is the lifetime of a SmartPaper" display?
Displays made with SmartPaper" generally do not degrade over time and will last for years. While rigorous product testing is ongoing, signs made with SmartPaper" have performed more than 5 million image changes without malfunction or fading.
9. What is the maximum time a SmartPaper" display can hold an image?
Images displayed on SmartPaper" are "held" indefinitely until a new electrical signal is applied.
10. What font sizes and styles are available for use with SmartPaper"?
When a sign using SmartPaper" is designed using pre-set images or messages, fonts of any type and size may be used. There are no restrictions on message character sizes or font styles for Multiple Fixed Image (MFI) messaging applications. Any text point size from 20 pt. up to the size of the full display surface can be used.
When a sign using SmartPaper" is networked and designed to display a field of programmable text that can be changed using MaestroWare" software, several proprietary font options are available or may be custom-developed.
11. Are there any environmental application limits to SmartPaper" (indoor/outdoor, operating & storage temps., humidity, etc.)?
SmartPaper" is fundamentally suitable to both indoor and outdoor display uses. However, initial SmartPaper" displays will offer optimal performance in indoor applications with ambient temperatures from 0-50 C.
12. What are the dimensions and weights of available MaestroSign" System signs made with SmartPaper"?
Our current models of MaestroSigns made with SmartPaper" are 3/4" thick including the housing. Unhoused sheets of SmartPaper" can be made to less than 1/10" thickness. SmartPaper" display surfaces may also be easily mounted to other display areas or promotional media.
13. How do you erase SmartPaper" displays or change messages?
Applying electrical fields to the display surface changes the image on SmartPaper". A range of techniques (with different flexibility and cost factors) will achieve this result. In the least expensive option, the back plane contains several possible images or pre-programmed text and digit messages (this is called a Multiple Fixed Image or MFI sign). Alternatively, the back plane can contain circuitry addressed to an array of pixels that can be written individually. Which image or message is displayed can be controlled by either programming the sign to display a fixed sequence when it is manufactured or a dynamically changeable sequence using MaestroWare" software and a wireless network attached to a local PC or the Internet.
14. Are there any size limitations to SmartPaper" displays?
SmartPaper" displays can be flexibly sized to fit the needs of retailers, and potentially range from as small as 3"x5" to as large as 48"x48". Standard sizes for signs we are currently offering range from 3"x5" to 11"x14", and are approximately 3/4" thick with their housing. Additional sign sizes from 10"x11" up to 18"x28" have been developed and are available as a custom order.
15. How does SmartPaper" compare to E-Ink?
Gyricon technology uses an array of tiny (100 micron diameter or smaller) solid beads with one hemisphere of each bead one color e.g. white and the other a different color e.g. black. These beads are embedded in a flexible plastic sheet in small cavities surrounded by a liquid. Each bead carries an electrical charge. When an external electric field is applied the bead rotates or "gyrates" (hence the name Gyricon). Adhesive forces between the bead and the cavity wall require an electrical threshold to be exceeded before it will rotate.
The E-Ink process is based on electrophoresis and uses similar size beads also embedded in a flexible plastic sheet that encapsulate liquid containing dyes and pigmented particles. The particles acquire an electrical charge from interaction with the liquid. When an electric field is applied, the dye and pigmented particles are attracted to opposite ends of the inside of the bead.
16. How many beads are in a 10.5"x11" sheet of SmartPaper"?
A display surface, such as a sign sized 10.5x11, contains 30 million Gyricon beads.
17. Can SmartPaper" be tampered with electronically?
No. Due to the way signs are constructed, they can not be tampered with by magnets, static electricity, PDAs, cell phones, or other electronic devices.
18. What types of sign housings are available for SmartPaper"?
Standard plastic housings that offer maximum protection and visibility for SmartPaper" are available in black matte and chrome finishes. Additional finishes and mounting options are available on a custom basis.
19. What are the possible future uses of SmartPaper"?
Gyricon Media, Inc. is currently focused on retail applications. However, the SmartPaper" technology is obviously well suited to a wide variety of other market applications, including PDA displays and electronic books/newspapers. GYRICON MEDIA, Inc. will focus on a single market at a time in order to establish enduring strategic partnerships and a solid business base. In the future, the company will move into other markets by expanding the organization and obtaining additional strategic partners that understand those markets.
20. What maintenance is required for SmartPaper"?
Apart from ensuring that batteries have sufficient charge, signs made with SmartPaper" can be easily cleaned by wiping with a damp cloth or normal non-abrasive window cleaners.
21. When will signs made with SmartPaper" be available?
Black and white signs using SmartPaper" technology will be available in limited quantities for initial customers this year. Larger volumes for general distribution will be available early in 2002. Additional color combinations will also be available next year.
22. Does SmartPaper" use or contain any hazardous materials?
SmartPaper" does not use or contain any toxic chemicals or other hazardous materials. SmartPaper" also does not require any special handling or disposal.
23. Who invented SmartPaper"?
Dr. Nick Sheridon invented SmartPaper" while at Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center).