Accent is an ambient display for the wall

As this Fast Company article I wrote back in 2017 shows, I’ve long been interested in the idea of ambient displays in the home. Their ancestors are analog products like clocks and framed photos. Then came digital photo frames and Chumby. More recently, they’ve shown up as smart displays. But despite some promising progress in wireless power, they all need to be plugged in.

E-ink to the rescue then? Google X engineer and Calmtech advocate Max Braun last year created Accent, an E-Ink-based frame that requires no power cord. As Braun notes, it is heavily based on the Waveshare three-color (black, white and red) display for Raspberry Pi computers. Thus, it’s good for things like calendars, OK for things like maps, and bad for things like photos. Braun followed up Accent with a poster-sized digital newspaper wall project called Paper which, according to the children’s riddle, is indeed black and white and re(a)d all over. However, with color e-paper technology such as E-Ink’s Print-Color technology becoming more prevalent in 2020 and beyond, a more suitable digital replacement for the photo frame could finally become a reality.

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