As cities build increasingly smart infrastructure, striking a balance between delivering real-time information to citizens and meeting environmental and aesthetic concerns is becoming a progressively pressing issue.
One example is digital displays – while they offer clear advantages in delivering information, light pollution from displays is a growing concern for people, wildlife, and the climate. Blue light disturbs the circadian rhythm of both people and animals, and because of the electricity needed to run displays, they are not necessarily more environmentally friendly than traditional paper.
It was with these issues in mind that one company set out to create technology that enables effective information sharing while minimizing power consumption and light pollution. Founded in Hsinchu with technology originated from MIT’s Media Lab, E Ink Holdings Inc. (E Ink) continually invests in R&D and has transformed the eReader market and enabled a multi-billion-dollar industry in just a decade. It is now the world’s largest supplier of ePaper displays.
“The impact and threat of climate change to our environment is a global challenge,” says Johnson Lee, CEO of E Ink. Lee and his team have made a point to prioritize eco-friendly business solutions. Thanks to E Ink’s innovative Electrophoretic Displays, the company is now the global leader for ePaper.
“In addition to implementing a net-zero emissions plan in our manufacturing and operation, E Ink has also continuously optimized electronic paper technology,” says Lee. “Our sustainable displays are already deployed in thousands of transits and public areas throughout the world, providing solutions that contribute less light pollution and use less energy.”
Electronic paper displays are sunlight-readable and suitable to be used in e-readers. Users enjoy the benefits of a paper-like reading and writing experience and exceptionally long battery life. Furthermore, ePaper can be employed for industrial use as it consumes less power while helping industries accelerate digital transformation.
One such use is in Internet of Things (IoT) devices; ePaper can be applied to digital tags in retail, real-time updates in warehouses and logistics businesses, and smart bus stop schedules driven by solar power.
Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) with ePaper enable retailers to update shelf label content and price changes wirelessly based on promotional campaigns, while saving time for personnel and also reducing human errors that cost retailers a substantial sum each year. It is also a more sustainable alternative to printing and cutting labels for each price and product change.
Meanwhile, E Ink’s electronic paper labels are used in many smart factories. Such labels display progress status information for each workstation with wireless real-time updates, which improves efficiency and helps realize automation. Most importantly, some ePaper tags are even battery-free. Considering the estimated 25.4 billion new IoT devices produced globally each year, reducing the power consumption of Industry 4.0-related devices can have massive positive impacts on the environment.
ePaper displays work without emitting any light and only consume power during image switching. Like traditional paper, the displays rely on ambient lighting sources in their surroundings to show images. And since ePaper signage display solutions can be driven by a piece of solar panel attached to the signage structure rather than cabling, they can be placed easily in remote locations previously unsuitable for digital signage, which requires a continuous supply of power to operate.
According to the evaluation of the FTSE Russell Green revenue 2.0 Data Model under the Energy Management Efficiency IT Process sub-sector, E Ink was identified as having 99.93% of Green Revenue in 2020. Despite the affirmation, E Ink has greater climate ambitions and a vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. The aim is to achieve 40% renewable energy use by 2025 before reaching 100% in 2030. E Ink has joined RE100, a global renewable energy initiative that brings together hundreds of large businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity.
To unite with others in combatting climate change, the company has joined the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), which defines and promotes best practices for reducing emissions. E Ink is also a signatory of The Climate Pledge (TCP), which urges businesses to be a part of a community committed to protecting the global economy from climate change-related disruption.
For its efforts, E Ink’s technology is Dark Sky certified by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a U.S.-based non-profit that works to protect the nighttime environment through quality outdoor lighting. “E Ink is very excited to receive our Dark Sky Certification,” says Lee of the achievement, stressing that it “underlines our commitment to the public and environment.”