Disposable E-Readers?

Via <a href="http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/Science-Fiction-News.asp?NewsNum=3102">Technovelgy.com,</a> what if e-readers became so much like paper and so cheap that you could simply them throw away once finished? That's what researchers at the University of Cincinnati are working on, "University of Cincinnati engineering researcher Andrew Steckl believes that a low-cost - and even disposable - e-reader may be right around the corner. 'We hope to have something that would actually look like paper but behave like a computer monitor in terms of its ability to store information.'"


Isn't part of the reason that we are using eInk technology is to prevent so much waste production? I can use my Nook to read as many books as I want on it. If my reading material was "printed" on an e-reader and it would be thrown away when I'm finished, wouldn't that defeat the purpose?

I guess maybe printable eBooks on demand.

IDK - can someone please tell me why this is worth inventing?

Damn, that's what we need: Another throwaway design. Because, you know, raw materials are infinite, energy is infinite, the carrying capacity of the oceans and atmosphere are infinite, there are infinite landfill spots... amazing.

I hadn't actually read the linked story when I made the previous comment. Now that I have: for the real epaper to actually function, it has to have some sort of battery & circuitry/connections...so, in fact, it's probably difficult throwaway crap--adding batteries to the waste stream is even worse than just adding junk.

Please don't miss the revolutionary and world-changing implications here because of misinterpreting disposable. An eReader cheap enough to be disposable means that yes we can fill a device like a vending machine equipped with WiFi and place them outside a McDonalds or in a 7-11, but much, much more importantly we can also place these eBookr distribution machines in the middle places like Haitian refugee camps. Updated news and emergency information can be loaded daily, school textbooks can be studied even when there is no more school, first aid manuals and instructions on how to purify water and prevent cholera can be distributed, pictures of missing loved ones and the location of family members can be disseminated. The possibilities for a "disposably cheap" digital reader that can be loaded on the fly is endless and its value is incalculable.

This is not about some tween buying an eBook of Twilight in the mall and throwing the reader out the car window when she is done. This is not about cheap plastic and landfills. This is about breaking down the barriers that deny the poorest peoples of the world access to the knowledge that can improve their lives and the lives of their children. It is about the universal distribution of every book ever created to peoples who never saw a bookstore before or had access to a library ever before.

In my opinion if the researches University of Cincinnati are successful, this would be a Nobel Prize worthy event.

Jim Fallone

I wholeheartedly agree that our society is getting too disposable, but there seems to be other properties at play beyond the price point -- such as readability.

“One of the main goals of e-paper is to replicate the look and feel of actual ink on paper,” the researchers stated in the ACS article.

Hi Jim,

I'm glad we agree that this shouldn't be used for a tween to read and throw away Twilight. That tells me we are on the same page ... be on eInk paper or an eReader.

Making eReaders so cheap that they can be placed at a 7-11 vending machine or at MacDonalds is a great idea. It does offer more ways to get information out there to the people.

As for places like Haiti, it would still require Wifi (or some form of internet) to update the device. Couldn't people in need use the cheap eReader in conjunction with a satellite blanking the effected area with a wireless connection? ( http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/buy-satellite-bring-web-access-developing-world/story?id=12... )

Basically, it's the internet in would take the show. The device should be fairly agnostic; left over cell phones or laptops could also be used. A nice 7" screen with a month long batter life would prove to be vital in such situations.

A 7" screen and month long battery would allow a device to be loaded, exchanged and used pretty much until it fell apart which may be long enough to weather a basic crisis. Mountainous regions and other reasons might make getting a strong wifi signal tough. You could used a distribution/vending machine as a docking station putting a dish on it and having it rund on solar cells or a generator. Not only distribute readers but allow users to come back to get additional content. Also this would be a way to control reader distribution. There may be reasons that controlling the downloaded content is important.

The biggest obstacles to delivery of digital screens really has been the cost of devices, whether laptops, kindles or iPads. This could be a game changing move forward.

What crazy a** scenario (CAS) are you imagining that you need access to ebooks during a crisis?

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