NTT DoCoMo engineers are tinkering with the use of e-paper for cell phones, hoping to develop a keypad that changes icons depending on which application is being used.
DoCoMo showed off prototypes of a phone with an e-paper keypad at the Ceatec exhibition in Chiba, Japan, this week. But the displays, from SiPix Imaging, are not yet ready for commercialization in phones, said Shuichi Aoki, an assistant manager in DoCoMo's Product Department who helped developed the phone.
The prototype phone, which has been in development for about one year, has a keypad that switches the display on each key from numbers to Japanese phonetic characters, called hiragana and katakana, depending on what application is being used. For example, when a user opens the e-mail client, the keypad switches from numbers to the phonetic characters, making them easier for users to see, Aoki said.