11. Applications and implications

What will it do?

I want to create a system of screens that can be embedded within a printed photograph in order to animate parts of the image. I want to be able to control these screens both as a group and independently, all from within the same app. I will use screens of varying type and size. E-ink screens are my first priority, and I will therefore begin with 2 small e-ink screens, one 1.54 in and the other 2.9 in. Once I have these working within the system, I will additionally integrate an LCD screen, and possibly more from there. I hope to make the system flexible, so that screens may be added and removed. I will then make at least two different applications for these, like the following examples:


Here, E-ink displays appear behind signs in the image, and an lcd screen appears as part of the dashboard. In this application, the screens could be controlled independently.


Here, the e-ink displays appear as speech text in the comics. Here it would be ideal if the text could all be controlled to change at once, or appear in a synchronized fashion, where it is all being controlled at once.


My hope is that this system will then be easy to use in other applications- the display can be framed and used as wall art, attached to a bulletin board to display messages, used as a clock, or incorporated into a larger drawing. I want to make casing, programming, and controllers that can be reproduced easily, so more displays of the same kind can be integrated into the display system when needed.

Who’s done what beforehand?

Here is a link to creating a controller for a single e-paper display

In a later week, the same student controlled that display remotely.

Here is a link to sending text to a display remotely

What will you design?

-housing for each individual display, that will contain the display, its controller, and a power source. I want the front of the housing to be flush with the screen, so that the displays can be on the same plane as the printed photograph, or other image, that they are embedded within. These should additionally be as thin as possible, so that they can rest behind a picture frame without making it noticeably protrude from the wall

-controllers for each display that can connect to the raspberry pi for programming, but which can also run and be powered independently once programmed

What materials and components will be used?

Raspberry Pi as MQTT Broker

E-Ink displays

LCD display

Iphone or computer for app control

Processors for each display, potentially ESP32/8266, ATSamD

Where will come from?

Bits and parts is what we use to order at Waag and will have the necessary components.

Waveshare has additional, larger e-ink displays if I want to expand to larger screens beyond the ones available from bits and parts.

How much will they cost?

Each display unit, excluding the central computer, is estimated to be in the $40 range

Raspberry pi is 40 euros and will be the most expensive part

If I order 4.3 inch displays from waveshare, these will be $30 each

Henk ordered the smaller e-ink displays that I will start with, which are also around $30 each.

Further components TBD

June updated price list:


Component Price
ESP32 $3.80
Waveshare E-Ink display $28.95
Li-Po 3.7v 600ma rechargeable battery $7
Switch $.33
3.3v Regulator $1.16
SMD Capacitor .1uf .12
SMD Capacitor 1uf .07
SMD Capacitor 10uf .18
10k Resistor .01
3D printed casing ?

Total: 41.62 each! (give or take a bit for 3d printing, milling, and laser cutting)

What parts and systems will be made?

3D printed housing for each display

PCB board for each display

One larger picture frame, to demonstrate embedding within a photo

One smaller picture frame, to demonstrate use as clock/comic display

What processes will be used?

3D printing for the housing

CNC milling for the larger wood frames

PCB milling/electronics design

What questions need to be answered?

-How will I design the PCB boards for each display and how will they communicate with the larger system (wifi enabled, or wired connection to raspberry pi)

-How will I mount the photos and disguise the separation between the image and displays as much as possible?

-Can the display units be powered independently

How will it be evaluated?

Can the displays be shown to work as a single system (for example, as a clock display, or to display a narrative that changes in order, like with comics)?

Can they be changed individually?

Can the E-Ink displays be powered once the pi is removed?

Is there an easy way to control the displays variably (like through an app)?