Waveshare Electronics Batteryless E-Paper Devices

Source: Hackaday Waveshare Electronics Batteryless E-Paper Devices

Look Ma, No Batteries!

Hackaday noticed that Waveshare Electronics is offering an assortment of E-Ink devices from a 1.54″ screen to a 7.5″ screen, which do not need a battery.  Instead of storing power locally, the same NFC signal which provides the data it displays also feeds it enough power to run.  E-Ink devices can pull this off because the only time it requires power is to update the screen, once something is displayed on the screen no power is required at all to maintain the image or text.

The model that Hackday picked up was 2.9″ diagonally, with a resolution of 296 x 128 pixels and cost them $25.99.  The device comes with an app, as you will need to crop and dither the image or text you want to display and this offers a WYSIWYG editor to prepare your content.  The app also provides the power and this could prove to be an issue depending on your phone, while NFC should work within 20cm in their case the Pixel 2 needed to be placed right up under the camera on the back of the phone to update the image.

These devices are intended for used as displays for barcode or QR code but a quick 3D print job turned it into an effective badge as well.   With a small NFC transponder and a watch battery you could keep one of these devices going for years, so the question is what could it be used for?  

A battery-free display is pretty nifty, but what are the intended applications? The vendor lists price tags, labels, and name badges as some of the suggested uses, so I decided to do a simple evaluation of each of those to see how well the display performed.

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About The Author

Jeremy Hellstrom

Call it K7M.com, AMDMB.com, or PC Perspective, Jeremy has been hanging out and then working with the gang here for years. Apart from the front page you might find him on the BOINC Forums or possibly the Fraggin' Frogs if he has the time.


  1. willmore

    Still an expensive novelty looking for an application.

    • Jeremy Hellstrom

      There are applications for stores and kiosks, the question is what inventive people can come up with to do with them. Walmart, Costco and the like have probably ordered enormous amounts.

      • willmore

        These displays have been around for a very long time. The only store I know that uses displays for their prices is Kohl’s and they use some battery powered LCD displays.

  2. collie

    Ok, that’s pretty cool. I’m curious about the upscale potential of this technology. If this is the best possible (thinking plasma tvs) then the potential is limited. But if (over time) the screens can be bigger, refresh rates can increase (eventually as high as 2 fps or higher), possibly even limited colour there could be serious applications of this tech. Wondering about how many devices can be safely powered in one area, but if # of devices is irrelevant and it’s not a dead end tech, there is potential as text book replacements, low power high efficiency libraries, convention hall signage, the mind wanders. Less wiring, MASSIVE reduction in charging outlets, it’s pretty cool if you let the thinking bits run with it.



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