Sure, the new iPhone 5 has a gorgeous Retina display. That doesn’t mean fans of e-ink have to carry a second device though: popSLATE is an iPhone 5 case that has a 4-inch e-ink display on the back, making for a second screen experience on one handheld gadget.
The popSLATE case is a new Indiegogo project that’s looking to raise$150,000 in funding over the next 48 days. I was skeptical about the case until I saw how the designers have implemented it in this video. Having a second screen is one thing, but being able to push information to it directly from the iPhone 5 shows some promise.
Depending on the software implementation, the ideas for using e-ink as a secondary screen are relatively limitless. You could have a custom case design with a picture that you or a friend snapped, for example. And you could easily change that picture at any time. Instead of double-tapping to switch between two apps — say some notes and a map — could be handled by flipping the phone from front to back. I see potential here.
The project team is also planning to release APIs so that app developers can add popSLATE integration in their software. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of the e-reader apps added support? I’m looking at you Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Using that second screen shouldn’t come at the cost of much power from the iPhone itself. The popSLATE uses a pass-through Lightning connector for data and power, so it will use juice from the handset. But e-ink only uses power when the display changes: Once a screen is rendered, it stays that way without using any additional power.
The early bird special to back the project and get a popSLATE is $79, with delivery expected in May 2013. That’s a discount from the planned $119 retail price if the popSLATE is funded.