E Ink & Fujitsu ePaper tag will be ‘a game changer in logistics’

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

The ePaper tag could eventually change all label displays in supermarkets. Pic: E Ink
The ePaper tag could eventually change all label displays in supermarkets. Pic: E Ink
E Ink Holdings, electronic ink technology, and Fujitsu Semiconductor have developed a reference design board for battery-less ePaper tags using E Ink's ePaper and Fujitsu’s UHF (Ultra High Frequency) band.

Toppan Printing will produce the battery-less tags, using the Fujitsu inlay, initially for Japanese convenience store chains and then for the general logistics and manufacturing sectors.

Electronic shelf labels

"E Ink is continuously working to improve and develop power-saving ePaper technology​," said Johnson Lee, president, E Ink Holdings.

"Combining two major trends ​in the electronics industry, battery-less and energy harvesting, this logistics ePaper tag could be a game changer in logistics​.”

The companies claim the ePaper tag can be used not only for logistics, but e-paper badges, ID cards and electronic shelf labels.

According to Lee, the aim is to improve logistical efficiency ​and accuracy, while reducing paper use for Japanese convenience store retailers.

The electronic ink smart label displays data, which can be updated via UHF RFID transmission.

The tags do not need a battery, and instead use energy culled during the RFID process to capture, store and display e-ink data.

The board enables data transfer distances of up to 20cm, enabling the tag to be updated at any time without data storage restrictions.

Japanese convenience store chains have already noticed the environmentally-friendly value ​the ePaper tag brings and are expected to deploy the tags to replace paper ones.

Common throughout Japan, these stores offer everything from beauty and health aids to snacks.

Faster delivery

It means the stores, which average 100m² in size, can change their inventory ​to meet the shifting demands of consumers quickly. So inventory must move equally fast from distribution centres to the stores.

"The reference design board enables maintenance free performance and the inclusion of FRAM allows for low power consumption, fast writing speeds and a non-volatile system​,” said Masato Matsumiya, VP head of system memory company, Fujitsu Semiconductor.

This enables the tag to be updated at any time. This technology will generate innovative applications in new markets​."  

According to Richard Slawsky, in a White Paper called ‘ePaper Creates New Opportunities for Digital Displays’ by Digital Signage Today, ePaper mimics the appearance of ink on paper using small capsules that are filled with a clear fluid containing tiny particles, sandwiched between a layer of electrodes.

When a positive or negative electric field is applied to an individual electrode, the particles with the corresponding charge will move either to the top or bottom of a capsule, making the surface of the ePaper display appear a certain color.

In its most basic form, the particles inside the capsule will be either black or white. The white particles carry a positive charge and the black particles a negative one. If the electric charge applied is negative, the black particles will be repelled to the top of the capsule and color the surface of the display black in that spot.

According to Zion Market Research, the ePaper market will grow to $28.87bn by 2022, up from $6.75bn in 2016.

E Ink, a member of AIPIA (Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association), is now developing a type of ePaper called ACeP, or Advanced Color ePaper, that can display more than 32,000 different colors at a resolution of 1600 x 2500 pixels and 150 PPI.

Click here​ to attend the AIPIA World Congress, in Amsterdam, November 19-20, 2018.

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