German electronics company Siemens has unveiled the new technology which makes it possible to place graphic displays onto paper or foil.

 

The company says the colour screens could even be used practically everywhere, even on food packaging, medicine boxes or admission tickets.

 

Researchers have also developed a way to make the displays at a cost significantly lower than existing LCD panels, and they could be commercially available in 2007.

 

Hollywood movies have already shown the capability to show moving images on paper; Harry Potter's photos were magical but Minority Report showed people reading a newspaper on a single electronic sheet which changed as news broke.

 

Siemens launched a prototype at the Plastic Electronic Trade fair in Frankfurt and think the first practical usage will be to help consumers.

 

Product information and operating instructions for electronic devices could be displayed directly on the packaging.

 

Pillboxes could display important details about usage and safe doses which could be shown in several different languages which could change at the touch of a button.

Printable batteries

The displays are powered using printable batteries which are already available, but they only last a few months, making the screens unsuitable for fast moving content such as video.

 

Siemens also says it could be possible to update displays or draw power from localised energy sources using printed antennas.

The company also says the packaging, including the displays, can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner.

 

However, Siemens says it is optimising the displays so they could show moving pictures, and consumer devices using this technology could have more durable power sources.

 

Siemens is not the only company researching electronic paper, and competition in the lucrative display market is intense as computer technology becomes more widespread.

 

As wireless networks become more pervasive, combined with these new display technologies and power systems, the possibility of an electronic video newspaper could soon be a reality.