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Electronic paper, on the other hand, reflects the light around it. "If you can read the newspaper, you can read our display," Bischoff says. "It's a much clearer, crisper, easier way to read text on a display."
E Ink's electronic paper also sucks up a lot less power than ordinary computer displays do because the particles stay where they are until an electric field makes them move. Images on a computer screen have to be lit up and constantly refreshed.
So far, applications for E Ink's technology have been limited. In one effort, the company has made large, changeable store signs that get people's attention or give information to shoppers.
"One thing I'm learning is that making something look good once £Řin the lab£› is so much easier than making a product," says Brian Hone, a software engineer at E Ink.
In fact, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to go from something that works in the lab to a reliable, safe, easytouse product that people can buy. Most technologies, including CDROMs and DVDs, have taken at least 10 or 20 years to go from concept to market, Bischoff says.