Esquire E-ink Cover: First Step

9 09 2008

Back to something technical, Esquire has come out with a little flashing E-ink display on their newest magazine cover. From what I read on the Internet it wasn’t very impressive, but I decided to walk over to Borders and take a look anyway. As expected, it’s a small segmented display that has about 12 “pixels”, which flash and blink in a few patterns controlled by a PIC chip. Eye catching? Sure. Worth trying to hack? Probably not. Afterall, how much can you do with a 12 segment display, even if you do cut out new letters for the segments? The cover is also rather thick, not the paper thin material we dream of in scifi books, displaying the morning newspaper that it downloaded at 4:00am.

I’ve heard a lot of opinions on the little cover, ranging from, “awesome!” to “lame, my watch has a better display”. My own opinion is somewhere in the middle. Although the display isn’t very impressive, it’s a first step that needs to be taken. Technology has been advancing for decades, but a lot of it never reaches the average consumer because of price restrictions. What better way to pay for it than advertising? The cost of the little display was payed for by Ford, to let them place a small Ford advertisement on the back of the cover. Today, the <BLINK> tag on a Ford ad. Tomorrow, your newspaper downloaded to your paper thin display to be skimmed through every morning. Well, unless the paperboy happens to be in a rebellious mood… don’t you hate it when people hack into your newspaper? Joking aside, I could see most of your magazines and newspapers flashing and blinking with advertisements within the next decade.