Esquire Magazine’s E-ink Cover

20 Sep 2008

Original Blogger tags: E-ink

First, the magazine cover, in two of the states it cycles through:

There’s a car ad on the opposite side of the cover. I’m guessing that’s what funded the whole thing. It’s really unimpressive, though, and doesn’t look as good as the cover; it just highlights parts of the wheels and sections of the body to give a vague impression of motion.

Ripping open the cover is easy, with a little care, and from there’s it’s just a matter of carefully peeling off some clear tape and pulling the panels free of their glue without bending them too badly or tearing one of the ribbon cables.

The apparatus, consisting of two panels and a circuit/battery board, and aforementioned ribbon cables:

The two panels detached. Note that unlike an LCD, even with the power removed the panel stays in the last state that it was set to.

No, I didn’t break it… if I reattach the ribbon cables, the panels start animating again.

The colored sheets that overlay the panels, to give the display some color:

So, overall, the E-Ink thing is a bit of a gimmick; if they had just wanted to make the thing eye-catching, they probably could have done it cheaper by lighting up parts of the cover using some tiny LEDs. It isn’t like the whole magazine came on an E-Ink screen and you could read the whole thing on it. That would have impressed me.

Can it be hacked? Well, there’s not really very much here. The panels aren’t true E-Ink the way the Kindle is; it isn’t dot-addressable. It is like a calculator LCD, containing a series of pre-printed regions that can light up or go dark. So probably the best you could do to hack it is to drive the different segments in a different order, faster of slower. Someone could make it sound-responsive. But you can only activate and deactivate the existing segments; you couldn’t, for example, rewire it to turn on and off individual characters, and certainly can’t draw your own characters or display some other kind of picture. A bit disappointing as far as hacking potential goes. I’m willing to be proven wrong, though — people are endlessly inventive!

Creative Commons Licence
This work by Paul R. Potts is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. The CSS framework is stylize.css, Copyright © 2014 by Jack Crawford.

Year IndexAll Years IndexWriting Archive