Proposal: eI-2030 - The Community Built E-Ink Laptop Project

Let’s make it happen.

The talent and knowledge to make an e-ink laptop exists; it’s here; we can do it right now if we wanted to.

I agree with all of your points.

To reach that goal, I think some visibility and publicity would have to occur. I recently made a post titled “Building an E-Ink Laptop,” where I’m documenting the steps I’m taking to build an e-ink laptop, which generated a lot of interest. The past few days, I’ve had the good fortune and privilege to talk to many people working on amazing projects related to e-ink, and I have learned a lot and have shared my thoughts and discoveries.

One of the barriers to entry when working with e-ink panels of larger sizes is the price. One idea I had around this was creating the: “eI-2030: The Community Built E-Ink Laptop Project”, where community members pool resources and knowledge to build an e-ink laptop.

The laptop and panels travel to different people, they can hack and play around with it for some time, and they ship it to the following community member so we can test ideas out and reduce the cost of entry to people. The process of building an E-Ink laptop will be documented in a blog, a YouTube channel, and Livestream, allowing more people to access E-ink, learn, iterate, generate interest, increase visibility and benefit everyone.

Possible next steps:

  • To share on social media and places where e-ink conversations are happening, to start conversation on this project and find people who are interested in contributing.

  • Creating topics in the forum to focus the conversation, with framing/context of a community built e-ink laptop :

  • Community members share their idea of a community-built e-ink laptop and provide a template for folks to provide a high-level or technical overview/breakdown of the computer, and community members vote.

  • Brainstorm what the process would look like to build a community e-ink laptop, setting expectations/intentions and norms.

  • E-ink laptops or projects in the wild were found and linked here, or latest trends, research on it.

  • Pooling our resources and knowledge: People share and volunteer, lend their resources/knowledge to create an e-ink laptop.

  • Create a list of community members where the e-ink laptop travels and some form of setup to document Livestream the whole thing.

  • Create a plan or queue of community members who want to work on the computer and figure out the best way for it to travel and who it will get delivered to, and keep track of it all.

And to throw my hat in the ring, I’ll loan my disassembled Dasung HD-FT to the “eI-2030: The Community Built E-Ink Laptop Project.

eI-2030 community, I would be interested in hearing your thoughts, suggestions, questions, or if you would like to collaborate.

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Hi, I’ve joined specifically for this discussion after seeing it linked on Twitter.
I’ve been looking at developing a E-ink laptop for some years, I even contacted Dasung with the concept and to work with them to develop.
My laptop was called Lap-e and aimed at writers as I write screenplays.
Having spoken to fellow writers I know some of the ‘wants’ a E-ink laptop would need to be commercial.
I know this has been attempted previously on Kickstarter but didn’t get the backing mainly due to lack of prototype or MVP.
I think there is definitely a market for this, if the technical challenges can be met and the consumer specifications met, size, price, comfort, keyboard and software capabilities. The backing will come.
I lack the tech knowledge to develop on my own but can help with product specs and target consumers.
I would love to have developed this but to see the concept become a reality would be fantastic.
If I can help in anyway please let me know.
Good luck and best wishes
Ade

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Ade,
Welcome aboard! Thank you for joining. Thank you for sharing your experience with building an E-Ink laptop. If you haven’t yet, I would suggest maybe doing a write-up of your experience on developing an E-Ink laptop. The challenges/successes faced, why build it, what you would differently so I and others can learn from your experience, will be invaluable for what we are trying to develop.

And I agree with you. There is a market for this. We will develop a community E-ink laptop in the open and live, so people can see it happening, get excited, become interested, and open more doors and possibilities.

Alex

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Maybe it could become an e-ink screen for the Framework Laptop.

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That’s a nice one. Alex and I are discussing using the PiTop https://www.sparkfun.com/products/15175

with a Pine 64 Quartz https://www.pine64.org/2021/02/15/february-update-show-and-tell/

The designs for PiTop are open sourced, so we could modify it if the Quartz doesn’t fit, then find a 13" e-ink display to fit the 14" enclosure!

Edit: I just bought a $29 PiTop case: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Pi-Top-V2-empty-cell-Green-Modular-Laptop-Chassis-Raspberry-Pi-/265034248741 For anyone interested, this is a great dev kit deal to test out various systems on a chip like the Pine64 Quartz and modify the display so that it fits a ES133TT3.

I am not sure how to connect the keyboard and touchpad, but I can work on that later.

Thanks for the update ! Subscribed to the thread closely !

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Count me in. (I’ve one of the people you’ve already be corresponding with @alexsotodev – the esp32 guy).

Just a quick random thought as to possible online tools we might want to stand up for the community project: a forum, a wiki, (maybe) chat, and (maybe) a repo. We could maybe hang out here for the forum–wiki isn’t a pressing concern, but eventually somewhere to put documentation of our created knowledge is useful, chat is easy and engaging, and for repos perhaps the ubiquitous github.

You’ve already started the PR wing–blog/homepage/videos need a place to live. I will try an help on that front too with my sub-project, probably with a series of videos. Hopefully I can convince myself to write them up as blog posts too. :slight_smile:

Subscribing to the thread!

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Welcome! We are planning a development page on Github soon. Also, check out https://fosdem.org/2021/schedule/event/mutantc/

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@xorlof Welcome aboard! Excited to have you be a part of this initiative. I agree; we are getting everything up and running. We gained access to the Discord channel and working on setting up a Github organization where we can use a wiki there and have some documents there. Looking forward to reading your blog posts! :slight_smile:

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Lap-e - The writers laptop

I’ve had a fascination with E-ink displays, in particular their potential and versatility for many years. This started when I had my first Kindle DX back in 2010.

I began to research the technology behind the display, which lead me to the E-ink corporation and Pervasive Displays. I could see the potential and growing market of E-ink digital signage and notice boards, all of which are well established today. These include e-ink meeting room notice boards (Joan), bus stop timetables, even e-ink vehicle licence plates.

The area I really wanted to see E-ink displays develop, was as a computer display, moreover a laptop display. This was driven by my increased interest in writing, particularly writing and developing screenplays. At the time I was using a MacBook Pro, which was more than adequate but taking its toll on my eyesight and afforded me too many opportunities for procrastination.

(The pandemic has highlighted the need for a Lap-e. Working from home, wanting to take your laptop outdoors but light reflections on the screen making this difficult. This wouldn’t be the case with a E-ink laptop)

I began to research if such a device was already in production and if it was, at what professional level it might be at. What I found out ultimately was that there wasn’t/isn’t a e-ink laptop, with a professional and commercial design. There are adaptations, hybrid and even ‘toy’ like versions which have limited potential.

The only viable display at the moment is the ‘Dasung Paperlike’ The obvious challenge, is to produce a similar display within a commercial well designed laptop.

If you’re like me, what we really want to see is a quality, commercial professional e-ink laptop.

Below are some of the design pointers, which fellow writers told me they would want to see in a e-ink laptop they would purchase. I hope this helps with your development plans.

Display -

Size 13”-15”
Best quality E-ink display - for refresh speed, contrast and resolution. (Possibly E Ink Carta)
Touch Screen option
Adjustable backlight/front light

Laptop Body -

A comfortable, ‘soft’ design material (preferably recycled material)
A distinctive look and colour
Connectivity ports to allow for mouse, printers, data download/upload.

Keyboard-

Must be of best comfort with ‘click keys, opposed to onscreen keyboard.
Very important design point, for frequent users (writers) and who will demand comfort.
Backlit keys

Battery -

Extended battery power
The E-ink display will allow for a much longer batter life.
This will be a strong selling point for writers, software engineers and students

Software -

An OS that will allow for all popular writing software.
Novel and screenwriting
Final Draft, FadeIn, Writer Duet.
PDF Reader
Access to file sharing like ‘Dropbox’
Printer Drivers

Connection -

WiFi and Bluetooth
Toggle internet on & off (reduce distractions) ‘write off line’

Miscellaneous-

Target Customers - Scriptwriters, Novel writers, Software engineer/developer
Maybe - App to stream music
Look for social angle ( schools or Universities, price sensitive)

Price -

£/$300-£/$500

Crowdfunding 1 - to make prototype
Kickstarter 2 - to make live product

*Research conducted via email and social media connections

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@Ade

Thank you for this excellent write-up of what improvements laptops (and desktops) could have with-e-paper displays in 2021. The 2010-2020 decade has felt like an eternity in this market, and by 2013 I was already forgetting about the technology. I’ve been also working on solar-powered laptops, so that it would be a great match. This concept is more of a cyberdeck than an actual laptop design I’m thinking of, however, I suppose some might find it a little useful:

https://youtu.be/AIz8JL6xc9A

1 Like