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World's first solar-powered E Ink traffic signs deployed in Australia

World's first solar-powered E Ink traffic signs deployed in Australia

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In some respects, E Ink displays are a bit of a marvel, with their low power consumption, easy readability, and minimal glare making them both sustainable and practical. No wonder, then, that the Australian Road and Maritime Services (RMS) has decided to try out the technology in a new domain: the world of signage.

The signs are 100 percent self-sustainable

The RMS has rolled out the world's first E Ink traffic signs in Sydney, where they'll be used to display real-time information to drivers during special events. Each sign is connected via 3G to the government authority's servers, and can be updated over the air at any time. They're equipped with a light for night-time usage and are 100 percent self-sustainable, with solar panels supplying the minimal electricity needed to change the signs (RMS says the displays use zero electricity when static).

An example of an E Ink traffic sign. (Visionect)

Visionect, which makes the signs' electronics and software, claims that E Ink displays are a natural fit for these sorts of tasks. The company cites statistics from LA showing that the city spends $9.5 million on temporary parking signage every year — costs that it says could be easily reduced using customizable E Ink displays. (It should be noted, however, that LA's signage bill is a bit of an anomaly, with more than half of the total sum spent on signs warning citizens about filming.) Visionect says that adding components such as proximity and temperature sensors could further improve its signs' capabilities. Meanwhile, the company behind E Ink itself is working on a variation of the technology that could be used on buildings. In the future, it seems, don't just expect E Ink in your e-reader.