Yesterday we saw a new Amazon patent for a dual-sided tablet, with an LCD screen on one side, and an electronic ink display on the rear. The idea is that for reading still text, or anything else that doesn’t require rapid screen updates, you could use the e-ink screen to cut down on battery consumption. It seemed like a neat idea, but we wondered just how practical it might be, not having seen an actual physical model or anything. We might have assumed that such hardware was still several months away, at best, but as luck would have it, a prototype of something very similar already exists, and is being shown-off at the IFA.
Rather than Amazon, display manufacturer E Ink was the one demonstrating this device, and instead of a tablet, we’re dealing with something smartphone-sized.
We’re now starting to get a feel for just how useful this kind of secondary screen could be. Things that will be optically scanned, like coupons or boarding passes, could be loaded to the e-ink screen and kept there without consuming battery power. That means that they’re not only accessible at a moment’s notice, without having to unlock your phone first, but could survive a dead battery.
Reportedly, at least one manufacturer is already working on integrating this kind of secondary display into its models.