Full-colour "digital ink" promises ad revolution

Full-colour "digital ink" promises ad revolution
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Saturday September 20, 2003

Think of all the visual interfaces each of us encounters in any 24-hour period - TV, computer, PDA, mobile phone, newspapers, books, advertising billboards, bumper stickers, wallpaper and many more. Now imagine if all of these displays were replaced with a full-colour, high contrast, low energy and cost effective digital display that can show fixed or moving images at up to 70 FPS. That's the vision behind magink, a full-color digital ink technology now being applied in the billboard industry that has the potential to revolutionise the way we view information in every aspect of our lives.

Gizmo has previously examined the remarkable potential of "digital ink" technology, but the key difference between the magink system and other projects like "E ink" and "Smart Paper" is that it can provide full colour images as opposed to black and white. The systems operate on similar principles - the "digital ink" medium is sandwiched between a transparent material like glass and an electric current is used to manipulate the position of molecules within the ink. In "Smart Paper" these molecules are bi-chromal, meaning that they can be arranged so that either black or white becomes the visible colour, but with magink, the patented organic materials that make up the "ink" can be manipulated to generate 4096 colours including grey scales.

magink CEO, Ran Poliakine, recently spoke to Gizmo about the initial phase of commercialisation - which focuses on the $19 billion worldwide outdoor advertising market - an the long term ramifications of this technology.

In conjunction with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation four formats of outdoor digital ink billboard displays - ranging from frame sizes of 1m x 2m to 3m x 6m - are in production.

Poliakine points out two key areas of advantage - from an operational point of view the advertising space can be sold by the hour, the display can be divided several independent display areas and local messages, lottery results, television or Internet broadcasts can be beamed to the display, all controlled remotely.

The second advantage the system provides is superior visibility and low power consumption. "Once the display is set, the images remain fixed without the need for any power and unlike power hungry LED and LCD displays that compete against the sun for ambience, magink requires no integrated illumination and the image maintains its quality under the full range of daylight conditions", said Poliakine. "The power requirements are so minimal that solar cells fitted to the billboard could potentially provide all the energy needed to run the display".

Single displays as well as display networks are remotely controlled by magink's priority software (magink NSDD) via a Windows based user-friendly client GUI application. Approximately 3000 in-store promotional magink displays are operating in Israel and Germany from a central control point and the product has been launched throughout North America and Europe in recent months.

Beyond the world of billboard advertising, magink will also be used with other display applications such as consumer electronic products, in-store point-of-purchase, and promotional displays. Portable devices such as PDA's and mobiles in particular will benefit from the low power consumption offered by magink.

"Magink technology could take the place of every screen based technology across the board" said Poliakine, "not just e-books where you can download newspapers, magazines and eventually video into a conventional 'book' format, but wallpaper, exterior building facades and countless other applications could benefit from the use of magink".

New York based magink was established in 2000 after a two-year incubation within SixEye Media Technologies Group, located in Israel. magink holds various patents on this technology which is undergoing further devlopment at R&D centers in the United Kingdom and Israel. Follow the links below to learn more.

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