Modos Prepares to Launch Its Paper Monitor and AMD-Powered ePaper Driver Board

Company preps for crowdfunding color and grayscale variants, while also promising a kit with its FPGA-driven display driver board too.

Gareth Halfacree
24 days agoDisplays / FPGAs

Modos, a company that aims to deliver devices built around ePaper electrophoretic displays, has announced that it is gearing up to open orders for the Modos Paper Monitor — along with a developer's kit that includes a display controller and a choice of 6" or 13.3" ePaper display.

"I'm excited to announce the pre-launch page of the Modos Paper Monitor on Crowd Supply," says Modos founder Alexander Soto. "The Modos Paper Monitor is an open-hardware 13.3-inch, 1600×1200 monochrome or color E Ink monitor with a fast 60Hz refresh rate, low latency, multiple image modes and dithering options, and flexible screen update control. It can be connected using HDMI and USB-C and works on Linux, macOS, and Windows."

The Modos Paper Monitor is nearing launch, with a Crowd Supply page now available. (📹: Modos)

Modos originally launched with the mission to create an ePaper-based laptop, though in the two years since has refocused on delivering a standalone display — compatible with anything that can output a 1600×1200 video signal via HDMI or USB Type-C connections, in a shift from the originally-unveiled prototype's use of a DisplayPort 1.2 connection with micro-USB power.

The idea behind the Modos Paper Monitor — and the Modos Paper Laptop which may follow — is to provide a more eye-friendly display than the backlit LCD panels commonly in use. The display uses an unspecified model of ePaper panel, which offers a greyscale or limited-color image drawing power only when it actively refreshes. Normally found on electronic book readers, ePaper displays suffer from slow refresh rates — but the company claims it has a dual-mode update system which can update a black-and-white image at 60Hz.

The monitor is driven by a custom display driver board, which Modos will also be selling separately to developers interested in experimenting with parallel ePaper displays from E Ink, SiPix, and DES. This is based around an AMD Spartan-6 LX16 field-programmable gate array (FPGA) running the company's in-house Caster gateware with a Raspberry Pi RP2040 microcontroller to handle USB communication and firmware update tasks.

While Modos has published a page on Crowd Supply ahead of a planned crowdfunding campaign for the Modos Paper Monitor and Modos Development Kit, though, the company has not yet disclosed pricing; its hardware designs are, however, available on GitHub under the Strongly Reciprocal version of the CERN Open Hardware License Version 2.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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