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Combining E-paper and NFC RFID Technologies to Enhance Medical Asset Management and Tracking

The need for specialized scanners with wireless tag technology has resulted in far slower market uptake than was originally envisaged; there is a great deal of scope for e-paper to help make up the shortfall.
By Scott Soong

Both these attributes result in displays that are significantly more energy-efficient than TFT LCDs. An EPD can run off a single coin cell for several years without draining even half of its energy. A TFT of comparable size would use hundreds of cells within that span of time. In many cases, EPDs enable designers to completely eliminate a local power source, and to run solely from scavenged RF energy. As a result, designers and engineers can explore applications for displays that would have been impossible to achieve using TFT-based solutions.

By using e-paper, a human operative no longer needs to carry a specialized scanner to read data from a tag. Instead, this information is visible at any time, and does not consume energy in remaining so.

Basic Principles of EPD Technology
An EPD incorporates two electrodes, with the upper one being transparent. Between the two electrodes are tiny micro-capsules, which are the "pixels" that make up the display. These capsules are just 0.2 millimeters (0.008 inch) in diameter, thus offering relatively high resolutions. Inside each capsule are electrically charged spherical pigment particles, which are normally white (positively charged) and black (negatively charged).

Applying a negative charge to the electrode above a capsule allows the positively charged white particles to rise into view. Apply a positive charge, and the black ones will become visible to the eye. In this way, it's possible to display text and images that deliver the same degrees of readability we associate with printed media. Different shades of gray or monochrome gradients can also be displayed.

Since the content displayed on EPDs is reflective, it is not affected by external lighting conditions in the way that TFT LCDs are. As a result, you can read an e-paper display even in bright sunlight. Furthermore, because EPD-based assemblies do not require a backlight or certain other components that are essential for TFTs, they are typically more streamlined, lightweight and cost-effective. Flexible EPDs are also available.

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