I’m a sucker for DIY projects and I’m also a sucker for e-ink. That’s why this $199 device, which is essentially a color e-ink panel with a built-in Arduino controller is so interesting.

Called the Inkplate 6COLOR, the device is funding now on CrowdSupply.

From the product page:

This is where the Inkplate comes in. Designed with simplicity in mind, it addresses all of the challenges that e-paper brings with it. Let’s start with hardware: everything is plug-and-play; just connect a USB Type-C cable, press the power button, and you’re ready to go. Inkplate boards contain all of the bits and pieces you need to get started, including a Wi-Fi microcontroller, microSD slot, extra input/output pins, Real Time Clock (RTC), Li-ion battery charger, and more. As for the screen, Inkplate 6COLOR has a slower refresh time compared to other Inkplate boards, but it compensates for that with a beautiful multicolor screen. You can show a total of seven different colors or use built-in dithering algorithms for even more realistic colors renderings on the screen.

Basically this is a large, programmable e-ink display that can run for “years on a single battery,” a claim that make sense if you put this into low-power mode and simply display information at infrequent intervals. Remember: once something is painted to the screen in e-ink it stays there until you repaint the whole thing.

The board comes with a 3D-printed case and can display up to seven colors at once. It can be programmed via a standard Arduino IDE and they recommend using it as a data screen. I have a similar board from Adafruit that I use to display the current weather which is, to be fair, a bit of overkill but it’s definitely fun. The product is funded to the tune of $6,300 and the goal is $9,900 so you have a pretty good chance of it shipping. If I didn’t already have way too much electronics stuff in my attic office I’d pull the trigger on this in a minute.

By John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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