E Ink Holdings Inc (元太科技), which supplies e-paper displays for Rakuten Kobo Inc’s e-reader series, expects shipments of its “smart” tags to grow as fast as 30 percent annually next year, as more US and Chinese retailers are to use its e-tags for shelf labels.
E-paper displays used in e-tags for luggage and retailers shelf labels are to become the company’s growth drivers in the next few years, as E Ink is exiting the LCD market and needs a new source of revenue, it said.
From next year, all revenue is expected to come from e-paper displays, with 70 percent used in e-readers and 30 percent used in e-tags, wearable devices, mobile phones and digital signage, the company said.
E Ink expects to ship between 30 million and 40 million units of smart e-tags, with more than half of those ordered primarily by European retailers, which are gradually replacing paper shelf labels with e-tags, it said.
“The growth momentum is to extend into next year,” E Ink official F.Y. Gan (甘豐源) said. “The biggest growth is expected to come from the US and China. Some large-scale retailers are testing our smart tags at their stores and could begin to adopt them sometime next year.”
The company said e-tags are increasingly used on luggage for travelers to check-in at airports via smartphone apps, replacing traditional paper tags.
“Luggage makers and airlines have approached us to study the feasibility of using smart tags to help their customers skip time-consuming airport check-in processes,” Gan said.
E Ink said it has shipped 100,000 smart tags for luggage in the past two years.
German luggage maker Rimowa GmbH recently released a new series of suitcases that integrate E Ink’s “smart” tags with Bluetooth, GPS and RFID technologies to help consumers track their suitcases.
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