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Seiko unveils active matrix E-Ink watch

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April 4, 2010

SEIKO's active matrix Electronic Ink watch

SEIKO's active matrix Electronic Ink watch

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Seiko has unveiled a new E-Ink watch which features a high-res active matrix display. Building upon the ultra-thin, high contrast, wide viewing angle and low power consumption properties of the world’s first "Electronic Ink" watch showcased at Baselworld 2005, Seiko says its new technology "allows figures, text and graphics to appear on the dial in a much soother and infinitely programmable way."

Active matrix display

While the company's first ‘E-Ink’ watch had an Electrophoretic Display (EPD) display made of a few hundred pre-set segments, the latest has 80,000 pixels, each capable of displaying in one of four grey scale shades rather than just in black-and-white.

The E-Ink display uses a system of micro-capsules about the diameter of a human hair - each is filled with tiny black and white particles and by controlling the number of these particles visible at the front of the display using an electric field detailed graphics can be achieved.

According to Seiko, "each item of information is three times finer than anything achievable via conventional LCD watch technology" and a higher degree of flexibility can be achieved in the way the date, time and other information is set out.

As well as retaining the wide viewing angle (approaching 180 degrees) of its predecessor, the screen size has been maximized by designing the watch with a narrow 1mm border around the display.

Low power consumption

Active matrix displays (if you're using a laptop, you are probably staring at one of these right now) use a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) array to control the electrical signals being sent to the display. Seiko has developed a low energy IC to control the TFT which it says requires just 1/100th of the power needed to run a same sized display using current e-Book technology.

Not just a concept

Seiko says the new E-Ink watch is not a concept. The design pictured is a technology demonstration prototype and we can expect to see a modified version on sale in 2010.

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