Gyricon is a type of electronic paper (sometimes called e-paper ) developed at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). The Xerox technology is expected to yield the first complex e-paper products, although other companies (such as Lucent and Philips) are also working on their own versions of e-paper. Gyricon will be used for products such as e-book s, electronic newspaper s, portable signs, and foldable, rollable displays.
Gyricon consists of a double sided plastic sheet almost as thin as a standard transparency. Within the sheet are millions of bichromal (two color) balls just .1 mm wide, contained in tiny oil-filled pockets in the material. The balls are rotated by exposure to an electrical charge; they rotate fully to display as black or white, or partially (in response to lower electrical pulses), to display a range of grey shades. Images and text are created by the combined display, and are bi-stable: they remain fixed in position until another electrical pulse is applied to change the orientation of the balls. Data will be downloaded to the ePaper through a wireless connection to a computer or a cell phone.
PARC, in conjunction with 3M, has already manufactured a large roll of Gyricon, to prove the viability of volume production of the ePaper. Xerox has created a subsidiary company, Gyricon Media Inc. to develop and market the technology, which will be seen as early as the end of 2001 in portable, reusable pricing signs for stores that can be changed instantly through a computer link. Nick Sheridon, a senior research fellow at PARC, projects that a Gyricon-based electronic newspaper could be available within the next few years.