There’s a reason e-ink (also known as e-paper) technology is such a great fit for e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle: it uses very little power and offers high visibility in a variety of lighting conditions. It’s no wonder that the black and white digital displays are starting to be used for traffic signs and other real-time information posted outside. Now London started to adopt the technology for its bus stops, launching a trial that has four locations display real-time arrival schedules and more.
Transport for London (TfL), the city’s transportation agency, has outfitted for bus stops with solar panels that power the e-paper displays. The screens measure roughly 8 inches wide and 35 inches tall, making them the same size as existing bus stop signs. In addition to showing how long riders have to wait for the next bus, the displays offer timetables and route maps.
The digital signs are easy to read, even in the bright daylight, and there are buttons for illumination at night, as well as to navigate pages. Since e-paper uses much less power than full-color displays, the solar panels can provide all the juice they need, making them environmentally friendly, as well as affordable. A simple 3G connection is all that’s needed to receive bus schedule information.
Earlier this year, Sydney, Australia began implementing e-ink displays into its traffic signs, also powered by solar panels. The signs are kept up to date with real-time information on parking or traffic conditions, and they’re completely self-sustainable. The other big benefit, which would certainly apply to London as well, is that city can save millions of dollars each year from no longer having to update signs with new schedules or parking rules.