Developments on the technology side will provide “users a seamless and unfettered way to be connected anytime, anywhere,” the researchers contend. “Anything that provides information seekers content whenever and wherever they want it is a threat to and opportunity for the printing industry. E-paper will accelerate (print) replacement where it has already begun, such as digital publications and books.”
The books sector is a key one to watch, they say, with the release of the Sony e-Book Reader giving an early read on the market for e-paper. “But it’s important to realize that there will be many types of e-paper materials for many different applications. If Sony’s product flops in the marketplace, e-paper is already in so many forms and products in the test stage that even a high-profile disappointment will not deter it in other applications,” the researchers contend.
See the accompanying sidebar (page 32) for some examples of this technology in the real world.
As applications come to market, printers who have skills in the management and manipulation of content may find opportunities in aiding their clients in publishing to new formats, they continue. “Now is a good time to learn about e-paper. There are many products in field tests; others will hit the marketplace this year.”
More information on the report is available at www.sfminc.com/SFME-PaperProject.html.
RFID technology is a little farther along the adoption curve, following an introduction that had much the same feel as the early days of the dotcom bubble. It was crowned the “next big thing” before most people really understood the details of the technology and what was involved in implementing it.
RFID requires application of a tag (re: chip) and antenna, with (active) or without (passive) a self-contained power supply—potentially a printable battery. First-generation implementations use more traditionally produced tags (silicone based). An external reader is required to capture the signal from an RFID tag, and provide the energy for transmission in the case of a passive tag.