Producers of food, consumer electronics and other fast-selling products hoping to attract more eyeballs to their goods should be interested in this technology: Researchers at German electronics giant Siemens have developed ultra-thin miniature colour displays that can be printed onto paper or foil.
The miniature colour displays could be produced at costs far below those of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, Siemens said last week.
The technology could be used to show information about products or provide step-by-step instructions directly on the packaging with the press of a tiny button.
The flexible miniature displays consist of an electrochromic material that holds a pattern of electrodes; a conductive plastic foil serves as the other electrode and the transparent window. The electrochromic substance changes colour when an electrical voltage shifts charges in its molecules.
For their current tests, Siemens scientists are using silicon switching elements to control the device, but the aim is to use a printing process to manufacturer the entire display, including the appropriate control electronics such as conductive and semiconductive plastics.
The displays can obtain their energy from printable batteries, which are already available, according to Siemens. But since these batteries lasted only for a few months, the miniature display technology was only feasible for merchandise with high turnover rates or short-use durations, Siemens said.
Another local energy source could be printed antennas that receive pulses from a transmitter in the shelf and convert the pulses into electricity, the manufacturer said.