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E Ink plans internet of things foray to lift revenue

By  : INDICS Operator Updated  :   2018-07-18 13:52:20

Source: China Daily

E Ink Holdings Inc, the world's largest electronic ink technology vendor by market share, is seeking to boost its China revenue to 30 percent in three years by tapping into the burgeoning internet of things or IoT market.

Efforts to digitalize and revamp retail in China are driving E Ink's businesses, with the proliferation of smart education, medical treatment, and transportation systems fueling additional momentum, Frank Ko, E Ink chairman and CEO, said.

"China is sharpening its focus on environmental protection and improved productivity through automation. This offers a unique opportunity for us, " Ko said in a recent interview.

The IoT refers to a network of devices, vehicles, buildings and other objects that contain software or sensors that allow them to connect and exchange data.

E Ink, or electronic ink, is a display technology with high visibility, high contrast and low power consumption compared to other displays like liquid crystal displays or LCDs.

The company's technologies are widely used in Amazon Inc's e-book Kindle, whose battery can power the device for over a month after a single charge.

Sales of e-book readers and e-paper notebooks together accounted for roughly 70 percent of E Ink's $500 million revenue last year, with the remaining 30 percent from IoT applications including smart cards, electronic shelf labels, e-paper display solutions, and mobile and wearable devices.

Noting E Ink's technologies are most applicable in industries that involve massive paper usage, Ko said IoT applications are poised to grow at a faster pace as more industries are embracing electronic ink for better performance.

"Sales in China are expected to jump from 20 percent last year to 30 percent by 2020, as electronic ink is being increasingly adopted across display boards and price tags at retail outlets, patient tags in hospitals, to smart devices for classroom teaching and screens at bus stops," he said.

Hema Fresh, a popular supermarket chain in China that has embraced the New Retail concept, which integrates online and offline shopping via big data analysis, is a client of E Ink, Ko said.

"Intelligent retail used to be a thing of the West. Now that China is seemingly taking the lead in the latest round of retail upgrade, our business here is likely to ride that wave," he said.

Apart from the retail front, the company will team up with local governments of "several major cities" and announce several partnerships in electronic displays used in public transportation within this year.

Similar initiatives are likely to be rolled out in the realm of education by the first half of 2019, Ko said.

The IoT could add $196 billion to the cumulative earnings of the manufacturing sector alone over the next 15 years, according to estimates by consultancy Accenture.

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