Modding e-paper devices with Android

In this video I’m going to be looking into ePaper displays. In particular using Android as the primary operating system that drives the display. Electronic paper otherwise known as e-paper or sometimes e-ink is an interesting type of display technology. It’s generally black and white, or grayscale and very slow to update the contents of the screen. Yet has significant use cases the main one being screens for ebook readers. E-paper screens look surprisingly like a printed page of paper. The Pebble watch for example used e-paper. E-paper seems well-suited for watches or at least seemed when the Pebble watch was around. Another potential use is status information displays. There are currently not many commercial products that use e-paper as info displays. However, there are many of these small e-paper displays available, which can be used with Arduino and other microcontrollers to build your own projects. Some of these e-paper displays even include a third color, for example black white and red, or orange or yellow. Hmm, only warm colors for some reason. I have one here, for example, that does black white and red. With an example status display. The Applied Science Channel did a great video on how ePaper works. Including how the third color works and some e-paper update speed hacks. One problem with building your own e-paper devices is the price. E-paper costs more than the equivalent liquid crystal sized screens, and e-paper gets really expensive as the screen size increases. There is a potential alternative to using bigger e-paper screens. Using cheap second-hand eBook readers and repurposing them to do new things. I don’t mean using ebook reader screens directly because most manufacturers don’t publish the specifications for interfacing to them. Instead I’m suggesting soft modding the whole reader. Previously, I did a video about the Kobo Mini eReader in which I did some simple soft mods to allow a few additional games and utilities. This is a good start. But in that case there was a limited number of apps to expand functionality. And I’m not looking to code my own from scratch. In this video, I’m looking at more models of eBook readers that can be soft modded to access the Android operating system. This can open the reader devices up to thousands of app possibilities. Though generally e-readers will only have early versions of Android to work with and low in CPU performance. Still it should be possible to find apps to turn some e-readers into something else. OK, the next ebook reader we’re going to have a look at is this Sony here and this one is the PRS T1 The currently running version 1.0.02, and various other numbers. I’m going to upgrade this to 1.0.05. Even though there’s a higher version, 1.0.0 7 which has problems with the USB and the Wi-Fi and doesn’t it allow as much flexible jailbreaking. OK, the update was successful and, You know the whole thing seems a lot more responsive now, there we go 1.0.05 OK, so the rooting procedures seem to have been successful. Everything looks fine. Now. Let’s see what happens. We’re going to go home, Ha! there it is, We now have a new option. We can go to, this launcher. That should get us into Android. There it is. Yeah, we’re now in the Android. There’s the inbuilt apps that we’ve got. OK, we have a Android settings. You’ll see the display update. Is going a bit crazy running Android. Let’s check the about. OK, we have model number the PRT-T1 and Android version 2.2.1 OK, I’m going to get access to Android on the Nook here. One way I can do that is to root the system. But I’m going to use a different method. I have a Micro SD card here with a custom recovery on it, Clockworkmod. So I’m just going to put the card in there and simply restart the Nook. Okay, let’s see if we can start this up now. So you power on. And then hold two buttons and wait. The app it worked. We have Clockworkmod installed into the internal memory. OK, so with Clockworkmod installed into the internal memory I can now load a custom ROM onto this. There are quite a few to choose from I’ve chosen the 1337 mod. Seems to be fairly complete and has most of the things that I want already added into it. It’s gonna save a lot of time for setting this up. Install zip from sdcard. OK choose zip, Now before I install the rom I’m going to do a rom backup just in case. Run backup all done. I believe that’s saved the backup to the SD card automatically. Ok, now let’s install a new custom rom choose is it from SD card and, There it is the Nook 1337 rom. Installing update well, let that go for a bitm And see what happens. OK, so to get past the online setup. We can hold this top right button and slide and there we go. We’ve got a new button there called factory. Press that and, So we get into a factory sort of a state giving us various details about this device. OK, but we need to then, Hold the button again and just tap here and a new button appears. Skip. OK, there we go we’re now in the system. OK, with the system accessible, we now go to the second part of the rom flashing. Power down and get back into Clockworkmod recovery. OK, we’re back in the Clockworkmod recovery, so let’s go and install another zip from the sd card and, Choose which one and so we’re going to go Nooter part one. Yep There we go. There it goes and this will replace the Nook, launcher with an Android style launcher. OK, the ROM is starting up and I’ll see what the new launcher looks like. Now we don’t enter our Google account yet we skip this, Complete action using Relaunch. Alright, let’s grant superuser a request to relaunch OK in relaunch. Yeah, that’s looking pretty good. OK, I have Android accessible on both of these devices now. The Sony was a little more challenging. The root explorer file manager that was installed with the root didn’t work. I have managed to install ES file manager and that works, OK. But there’s not very much memory to install apps at the moment. and The Nook came up really well. It’s running a custom launcher called Relaunch, and Lots of options available and I have been able to install some apps. So if we bring up the apps page, I’ve got a large number of apps on here already. So the custom ROM on the Nook at the moment is, Android 2.1 Which is not too bad. I’m quite pleased with the progress so far and expanding the functionality of these two eBook readers and These weren’t very expensive. I think on eBay this was about $35 for the Sony and the Nook was an amazing $12 including shipping. So if you’re prepared to look for a bargain, you can find these sorts of things. Now I did find a third device on eBay when I was looking for a paper devices and Yes, this does have a full-color OLED screen, which is not something we’re looking for on a video about soft passive e-paper screens. This is no ordinary phone. On the back there is an e-paper panel, which if I unlock it, It’s an e-book reader, it’s an information panel. Well, that’s all it is so far. Another thing this phone can do is I can switch the main display to the rear e-paper panel, And then I’ve got android running on e-paper and this is a fairly late version of Android at the moment compared to the e-book readers we’ve been looking at. Yeah, we’ve got Android 4.4.3. And this can be upgraded to all the way to Android 6.0, I believe. There may be a custom ROM or two that allows that but for now Let’s have a look at, playing a video on an e-paper display, so I’ll load up YouTube. So, let’s play a video on this e-paper screen. I’m loading a Technology Connections video here. And this is a really good video talking about e-paper or e-ink specifically also on Android devices, and that frame rate is not too bad. We can see a lot of ghosting on the screen because it’s not updating correctly, but I’m actually kind of impressed that an e-paper screen like this can play video at all. OK, so that’s where I’m at. I’ve got Android accessible on these e-paper devices I’m now actively looking for apps that I can run on these to make these useful. I’d like to mod the Yotaphone a bit more and make devices that run in an always-on state. So I hope to do more with ePaper, Including these little displays that I’ve got and also using those to build something interesting with. OK, so that’s it We’re done for now. Thanks for watching.

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