An electronic newspaper is a self-contained, reusable, and refresh able version of a traditional newspaper that acquires and holds information electronically. (The electronic newspaper should not be confused with newspapers that offer an online version at a Web site.) The near-future technology – researchers expect to have the product available as soon as 2003 – will use e-paper (electronic paper) as the major component. Information to be displayed will be downloaded through a wireless Internet connection. A number of versions of the future technology are in development, although there are two front runners, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) is working on a newspaper that would consist of a single sheet of their e-paper (called Gyricon), while Lucent, in partnership with a company called E Ink, is working on a multi-page device (also called E Ink).
The Gyricon version consists of a single sheet of transparent plastic, containing millions of tiny bichromal (two color) beads in oil-filled pockets. Text and images are displayed through rotation of the beads that occurs in response to electrical impulses: a full rotation displays as black or white, and a partial rotation displays as gray shades. The user would pull the page out of a slit in the cylinder; in the process, the page would pass over a printer-like device which had downloaded data from the Internet through a wireless connection. To access another page, the reader would return the sheet to the cylinder, select the page, and draw the sheet from the scroll.