First Electronic Ink Magazine Cover Expected

The first E-ink cover for a magazine will come out with the September issue of Esquire, according to Editor-in-Chief David Granger. Electronic ink paper is created by coating a surface with millions of tiny microcapsules; they have about the same diameter as a human hair.

Each of the microcapsules contains positively charged white particles and negatively charged black particles suspended in a clear fluid. When a very small electric charge is applied, the black particle will move to the top surface; that makes a little black dot in that space. In this way, text characters and even graphic elements can be displayed.

The cover display will flash "the 21st Century Begins Now." The cover will have enough energy to run for about 90 days.

“Magazines have basically looked the same for 150 years,” Mr. Granger said, showing a prototype e-ink cover. “I have been frustrated with the lack of forward movement in the magazine industry.” “The possibilities of print have just begun. In two years, I hope this looks like cellphones did in 1982, or car phones.”

Science fiction readers have been looking forward to this development for a long time, and can give us an idea of what this technology will look like in coming years. For example, writer Greg Bear had a very clear view of the Esquire E-ink cover in 2003 in "Darwin's Children." He wrote about e-paper covers with speaker chips.

If you'd like to see a more visual representation of the future, go to your video library to see the e-paper newspapers from Stephen Spielberg's 2002 movie "Minority Report."

Take a look at what an e-ink display can do in this e-ink cellphone display video.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission of

Source: The New York Times

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.