Protective phone cases and shells have flooded the market over the past few years, and for good reason. If that smartphone in your pocket would cost upwards of $500 to replace without a subsidy from your carrier, throwing a $10-$30 shield over it makes simple fiscal sense. Of course, manufacturers have done their part to produce cases which provide more than pure ergonomic protection; a trip to any local phone retailer would reveal dozens if not hundreds of colors and designs from a variety of companies all dedicated to adding a certain aspect of personalization to the defensive slabs of rubber and plastic. Still, aside from a few extended batteries here and there, the cases remain just as they are—cases.
A new startup is hoping to change all that by introducing a novel aspect of functionality to the tried and true form. PopSLATE—a team of engineers, designers, and software developers— is working to embed a secondary E-Ink screen into the back of their new iPhone case. E Ink, the same electronic “paper” found in Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, is able to display text and images without the glare LCD’s and other colorful displays suffer from under direct sunlight—in other words, you can read an E Ink display outdoors just as easily as a book or newspaper.
Aside from being more reader-friendly in natural light, E Ink is also extremely efficient (Amazon estimates that its Kindles can last 4-8 weeks on a single charge), which makes it ideal for reading long passages or novels. Because E Ink only consumes energy when it changes what it is displaying, the popSLATE could also be used as an ever-adjustable photo frame for the iPhone; users would simply select a picture they would like hosted on their case and it will appear. That image could then be changed again at any time, all with minimal impact on the phone’s battery. The developers at popSLATE are also aiming to allow their case to display important notifications, updates to sports scores, maps and more.
Unfortunately, the secondary-screen case is not yet available for sale, as the company is still finalizing designs and in the process of obtaining funds to launch their new product. With any luck it should be available in the coming months and, if all goes well, we may even see a second version that uses colored E Ink at some point in 2014.
Are you excited to have a secondary screen available for your iPhone? Let us know about it on the Long Island Lounge.