Electronic paper

Siemens have come up with really cheaply produceable electronic paper — thirty cents for a 1in x 2in sheet. Great! However, they’re talking about using it as labels on packaging: “When you go in a supermarket today, you might see but hardly notice 15 different cereal boxes…but you will notice when some of them will be flashing”. Jesus, don’t do that. Think through the implications. Imagine it works. Are all the other product companies going to stand by and watch their sales drop? Not at all. So they’ll all get flashing packages too. Great for Siemens, bad for us. If this happens and everyone gets flashing packaging, you’ll be in exactly the same situation as now — no one product will stand out — but now every supermarket aisle will look like an insane version of the Strip in Las Vegas, and epileptics will have to grow all their own food. E-paper technologies are brilliant, but please, use them to make sheets of paper that I can browse the web with like in The Diamond Age, not to make packaging. Apparently the technology doesn’t react fast enough to support video, but that’s fine; work out a way of putting memory in it and then make it for 30 cents a sheet so I can put a whole encyclopaedia into one sheet and then give it to someone. Do that now.

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