March 21, 2006 Along with the Flying car and the commuter jetpack, the electronic book has been one of the great unfulfilled promises of technology. When they were first mooted, the electronic book was envisaged as being an easy way to download and read the daily newspaper, novels and magazines in a high resolution, high contrast, easy-to-read format akin to printed material, though since then the media world has been shaken to the core with a whirlwind of wikis, blogs and user generated content.
Indeed, it may now seem an anti climax but the first ebook readers will hit the shelves within the next few weeks from both Sony (we covered the Sony Reader here) and from a much lesser-known entity in the form iRex Technologies’ Iliad. IRex is a spin-off from Royal Philips Electronics and the company’s first offering, the Iliad ER 0100 has an 8.1-inch 1024X768 160dpi screen, with 64 Mb of RAM and 224 Mb of flash storage, USB, SD or CF card storage, and runs an Intel 400MHzXscale. The Iliad ER 0100 combines an electronic paper display with wireless networking and touch screen technologies. This delivers the established easy to read, low-power advantages of E Ink Corporation’s electronic paper with the capacity to get content from various sources (Internet, PC or flash memory cards), as well as the ability to capture user input. The display has 16 grey levels, ensuring excellent legibility both indoors and outdoors while still offering a thin, lightweight device for easy portability.
The user interface is based on traditional reading principles, supposedly making it easy to apply to professional and leisure uses.
Working closely with Royal Philips Electronics and E Ink Corporation since 2001, iRex Technologies has based its advanced concepts for portable, electronic paper devices on the expertise of its partners.
The company is based at the High Tech Campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. “Our solution is the first to offer content-suppliers such a fast, comfortable, secure and interactive opportunity to distribute their content to their users,” explains Hans Brons, CEO of iRex Technologies.
“We focus explicitly on B2B partners: for news, educational and professional publishers this means delivering to their audience, regardless of location, with the immediacy of the Internet and the ease and flexibility of paper-based reading. The benefits are not just in user satisfaction. The always up-to-date information and low cost structure should make it easier to reach and even define new markets.”