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New E-Paper tech will enable HK Smart City goals

Image Credits: HKSTP, Press Release

A Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP) partner company announced that E-Paper driver Integrated Circuit (IC) has been adopted for use in Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs) currently in operation at the T-Shop & Lab, an unmanned retail shop located at Hong Kong Science Park.

The E-paper label in the unmanned retail outlet

Apart from facilitating retail digitisation and automation, this technology with its pioneering energy-efficient feature can also be integrated into a myriad of applications for Smart City solutions.

Launched in January 2019 as part of HKSTP’s “Journey to a Smart City – An Innovation Showcase”, the T-Shop & Lab is the first retail shop set up at Hong Kong Science Park. I

It aims provide an unmanned shopping experience to the public and a platform for showcasing related unmanned technologies.

E-Paper technology is a catalyst for retail digitisation and automation, which is fast becoming a new global trend. ESLs offer many advantages for retailers, such as enabling flexible inventory control and reducing overheads costs.

They also allow for dynamic and highly accurate online and offline pricing strategies, improving brand image. At the same time they enhance the shopping experience with a clearer view of product prices.

The CEO of the HKSTP partner company the E-Paper display driver IC for ESLs has already been adopted for use in a number of renowned supermarkets, unmanned stores and convenient stores in China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Europe and US. The firm believes that ESLs will very soon gain wide acceptance in Hong Kong.

The firm has been a forerunner of E-Paper technology; its E-Paper display driver IC powers the world’s first E-Paper mobile phone. Currently they are the market leader and see strong growth potential for this technology.

Apart from ESL, E-Paper technology is being widely adopted in applications including smart home appliances, wearable devices, IoT and smart healthcare solutions.

It is also the perfect fit for the “Paperless Hospital Services” advocated by the government. With a more connected world on the horizon, E-Paper is the technology-of-choice fostering the growth of smart cities in the IoT era.

The technology being tested and applied in such a practical solution for an unmanned retail experience is welcomed, adding many new functionalities and benefits in running a physical outlet.

The Science Park will continue to provide a living laboratory for its park companies to test and fine-tune their solutions for deployment in a real-world environment.

The Smart City experiences that are being tested and showcased at the Park provide a live demonstration for potential commercial partners and investors and exemplify how everyone can benefit from innovations in daily life.

Electronic Shelf Label (ESL) is a key application of Electrophoretic Display (EPD) (e-paper) technology. Active Matrix Electrophoretic Display (AMEDP) is the most advanced form of EPD technology.

Driven by E-Paper technology, ESLs enjoy competitive features including:

  • Extremely low power consumption as E-Paper does not consume power until it has to change images. It allows over 5-year battery lifetime
  • Wide viewing angles allowing ESL tags on the very top and bottom shelves to be easily readable by customers
  • Superior optical performance even under strong store lighting conditions

ESLs offer retailers many advantages:

  • Reduce overheads – retailers may wirelessly update content on shelving signage quickly and efficiently, without the need to print paper tags and deploy store representatives to change them manually.
  • Dynamic pricing and high accuracy – ESLs allow frequent price update (dynamic pricing), while at the same time reducing pricing errors to customers, thereby enhancing consumer experience.
  • Flexible pricing strategies online and offline – retailers can offer in-store promotional pricing that matches their on-line channels, respond to their customer traffic patterns in real-time, and reduce wastage through seamless promotional pricing changes for perishable goods.
  • Effective promotional platform and brand image building – apart from pricing, ESL may also be used to display promotions, competitor pricing, social reviews, product ingredients, source of origin, automated currency conversion, inventory levels, enhance brand image and much more.
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