Plastic Logic rolling in government roubles
Russian money, but still no product
E-Reader prototyper Plastic Logic has hooked in some Russian cash to continue operations, and will be opening a Russian factory to start the manufacture of something or other.
We don't know exactly what that factory will be making, or how much money the Russian tax-payer is investing. Plastic Logic officially gave up on the Que Reader back in August, and has yet to explain what its next product will be, which was understandable given the cash-flow situation. But that's changed now if it has Russian cash to play with - from RUSNANO, the state-run fund devoted to promoting nanotechnology expansion in Russia.
"As a global company, we evaluated multiple countries for our expansion efforts and ultimately Russia offered the best strategic partnership opportunity" says the canned statement from Plastic Logic’s CFO, but it's hard to imagine that many companies were rushing to pour money into a company that had failed to produce anything despite its cutting-edge technology.
And Plastic Logic's technology is cutting, perhaps bleeding, edge - printing electronic circuits in plastic to create unbreakable screens. But turning that into products has proved complicated and expensive.
The Que was impressive during demonstrations, but never made it into production, despite the company announcing a manufacturing facility in Dresden. That factory will "continue with production of the company’s first commercial product" according to the release, and will also be joined by one somewhere in Russia.
The RUSNANO release is rather more direct, explaining (as Google translates): "Plastic Logic is the creator and owner of a significant amount of intellectual property in plastic electronics". That will be the intellectual property which was developed in Cambridge, by Cambridge University researchers, and is now owned by a Mountain View company which is being funded by the Russian state.
Despite never making it into production, a Que reader prototype is on display at Churchill College at the moment, as part of an exhibition showcasing technical innovations the college has inspired over the last 50 years. Might be worth dropping by, as the next Plastic Logic product will probably be in Cyrillic, if it gets into production at all. ®
Always was a tricky sell.
Dirt cheap transistors produced in ridiculous quantities on *huge* flexible substrates.
The transistors are not *that* small, so it's a good thing those substrate *can* be magazine (or even broadsheet) sized.
The transistors are not *that* fast (the equation relating switching time, electron mobility and dimensions is a standard of most books on chips design). We're talking *low* Mhz,
You hear *much* less about other parts of the hardware, battery tech (although an Israeli company do paper based solid electrolyte disposables for credit card sized apps), printable PZ transducer (and what about the crystals for clocks) ? IR transceiver for an IrDA link (does anyone remember them?) As for *any* kind of RF gadget (every other kind of wireless comm link up to GSM) well you might go with Piezoelectric SAW methods but you'll still need some kind of Ghz level non linear device tech.
And the *real* killer
The *architecture* to make this tech *do* something something interesting, profitable and maybe (just maybe) a bit cool.
Xerox PARC with their "plaque" concepts looked promising and the MIT "Things That Think" looked like they should have been talked to. Protocols that would make swapping your old dirt cheap (but unreliable) 'puter for a fresh new one out of a dispenser and make "data migration" no more difficult than changing your socks.
They've had a *long* time to deliver *something* but come up with jack.