As you probably know, bistable or passive displays like the E-Ink ones in e-readers focus on battery life and readability rather than color and interactivity. The latest devices have been optimized for fast page refreshes and touch operation, but generally you’re still waiting a half a second or so for the screen to flip over to the next page, menu, or what have you.
But that’s not all they’re capable of. We’ve seen hacks before, but this one definitely takes the cake. Check out this video of a Nook Touch from XDA hacker marspeople:
Bear in mind this is strictly a hack and not a full-on release or commercially developed product. Most people wouldn’t want to use the device in this state: it’s not consistent in how fast it responds, there are graphical glitches, and it probably drains the battery like crazy. But the fact is they’ve got a passive display refreshing ~15-20 times per second and responding to touches instantly like a normal tablet.
The possibilities for this generation of readers are limited: few people are going to install a hack like this, and even if they did, not much content is really designed to be consumed this way. Pages are a natural way to read books, and scrolling constantly is kind of a pain. But it’s amazing to see these displays, usually so slow and static, being used so actively. Here’s hoping the next displays from E-Ink (or Bridgestone, or whoever) are capable of even more. Despite what people might say, the passive display still has a lot of potential to grow and evolve.