The future of newspapers

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The Washington Post recently interviewed Russ Wilcox, the chief executive of E Ink Corp., a company that “has created a paper-thin video screen that combines the ease of reading words on paper with the Internet’s access to information.”

Wilcox told the Post that we’ll see by 2015 the introduction of newspapers similar to that depicted in the movie “Minority Report”: paper thin video screens that can be folded or rolled. Wilcox says newspapers would be buying these gadgets in bulk and hand these out to readers.

Wilcox told the Post in the interview published Oct. 12: “It’s going to be free and the reason is that newspapers are spending $150 per year per reader on making the paper. (Figuring in cost of newsprint.) Within 2 or 3 years you’ve built up $300 to $500 of budget per reader so you can give it away for free because the device itself will cost less than $300.”

The technology, however, may be available even earlier.

A day after the Washington Post article was printed, Guardian Unlimited reported Siemens’ unveiling of “cheap, paper-thin TV screens that can be used in newspapers and magazines.” Here’s a photo from the Siemens website.

Siemens spokesman Norbert Aschenbrenner, according to the site, said the new screens are literally paper-thin and can do everything a regular TV screen or computer monitor can do, but cost a fraction of the price.

“The technology makes it possible to put moving images directly onto paper … at a cost that would make it economical to use on everything from magazines to cigarette packets … where the moving images would give more detailed instructions than any photo could ever do,” he said.

He said that the technology will be used for Harry Potter-style dynamic pictures in newspapers but will probably take a little while to get cheap enough.

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