TECH SPOT: Electrifying ink

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Discover the electronic ink technology of the Seiko Active Matrix EPD.

Seiko is leading the march into the future of digital watches with the creation of the world’s first digital ink timepiece with active matrix. Find out why the taster of this technology shown at BaselWorld 2010 has already been left in the dust.

In the world of digital watches, electronic ink is the future and Seiko has been the first watch brand to get on board with this newest of innovations, harnessing the type of technology used in e-readers to create the world’s first watch with electrophretic display (EPD) and active matrix.

The use of electronic ink in EPD products is revolutionary in concept but the science behind the screen is simple. The principle components of electronic ink are millions of tiny microcapsules about the diameter of a human hair that have negatively charged white particles and positively charged black particles. Areas of the screen can then be positively or negatively charged as desired, drawing its opposite white or black particle to the surface making a crystal clear image.

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The Japanese watchmaker first showed off the possibilities of EPD watches in BaselWorld 2010 with an early model but following the Swiss show it went back to the drawing board to refine its creation. The EPD model shown at BaselWorld used electronic ink to display the time and date in razor-sharp graphics on a high resolution screen at 300dpi, but the next generation of EPD watches can do so much more.

As well as time and date, the active matrix technology used within the new models allows the electronic ink to be used to create pictures and moving graphics. This is the true magic of EPD; it allows digital watches to be more than just static timekeepers, they can be mini computer screens on the wrist.

The EPD and active matrix technology has so far been limited to create graphics of playing cards, which can be used as a time-display option, and a globe, which is used to pinpoint the wearer’s location in the world.

The watch also carries a range of digital options, as you would expect from a cutting-edge timepiece from Seiko. The wide high-resolution screen displays the local time and global location, a second time zone of the wearer’s choice, the date and offers five time display options.

But the technological aptitude of the watch stretches beyond the impressive screen. The watches are solar powered, meaning that the battery never has to be replaced, and the accuracy of the watch is controlled by tapping into radio signals from the world’s atomic clocks that means it will only ever lose a single second every 30 million years.

THE STATS
• Time indication for hour, minute and second
• Calendar indication for year, month, date and day of the week
• Perpetual calendar up to December 31, 2060
• World time function for 32 cities with daylight saving time capability
• Dual time function
• Three-channel daily / single-time alarm function
• Sound demonstration function
• Automatic radio wave reception function with manual reception capability
• Automatic time correction function
• Battery level indicator
• Power reserve of nine months or 41 months in sleep mode
• Overcharge prevention function
• Power save function
• Accuracy of 15 seconds per month (when not receiving the radio signal)
• Movement dimensions of 30.9mm x 32.9mm
• Thickness of 5.7 mm (excluding solar cells)
• Case and band: Stainless steel, stainless steel with gold-tone hard coating or stainless steel with black hard coating
• Three-fold clasp with push button release
• Sapphire crystal glass with anti-reflective coating
• Water resistance to 10bar
• Case dimensions of 45.5mm x 46mm with a thickness of 9.5mm
• RRP £1,350

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