E Ink, a US-based developer of electronic-paper type flat panel displays, has developed a colour version of its screen technology and is showing it at the FPD International exhibition in Japan.

The screen was developed by E Ink with colour-filter supplier Toppan Printing and the sample on exhibit was completed within the last few weeks, said Darren Bischoff, the company’s senior marketing manager. It's based on similar technology to the company's monochrome displays that are already in production and can be found in a handful of products like Sony's Librie electronic book reader.

The main difference is the addition of a colour filter. The prototype on display in Yokohama is a 6-inch display with 400-x-300 pixel resolution. That works out to 83 pixels per inch which is half that of the commercial screen used in the Sony ebook reader.

The screens are reflective, which means they use ambient light reflected through the display rather than a backlight. They offer high contrast and appear much closer to paper in appearance than other flat panel displays.

E Ink anticipates the display will be ready for commercialization at the end of 2006, said Bischoff. Potential applications include ATM screens, digital camera viewfinders and mobile phones, he said.