Seiko plots watch revolution with e-ink displays

2010 e-ink technology is ready for prime time says the watch company.

Seiko is hoping to ignite a new watch craze similar to the advent of digital watches in the 1970s with the launch this year of the ‘Future Now’ new generation E-Ink watch.

Electronic ink, also known as Electrophoretic Display or EPD, is a technology that has been improving for several years, mostly on the screens of e-book readers such as the Kindle.

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Seiko has been enhancing its own e-ink technology since 2005, when it first introduced a prototype watch at BaselWorld.

Electronic ink is a significant leap forward from other display technologies such as LED. It allows displays that are ultra-thin, high contrast, and which can be viewed from a much wider angle (almost 180 degrees). They also use much less power than older technologies.

The 2010 E-Ink model revealed by Seiko at BaselWorld was a prototype but, unlike in previous years, this watch will go on sale in the autumn of this year in what the company describes as “a modified version”.

The watch will use Active Matrix EPD technology, which greatly improves the screen clarity. According to the company, each item of information is three times finer than anything achievable via conventional LCD watch technology.

This allows figures, text and graphics to appear on the dial in a much smoother and infinitely programmable way. For example, the date can be re-sized or laid out differently, according to the amount of information to be displayed in a fixed area.

The 2006 ‘E-Ink’ watch had an EPD display made of a few hundred pre-positioned segments, just in black-and-white, while the new one has 80,000 pixels, each capable of displaying in one of four grey scale shades.

Pricing and availability for the watches were not disclosed at BaselWorld.


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