The paper is coated with a coating of only a few microns. This overlay contains chemicals that are activated by a light bar in the printer or multifunction device that creates the image. … The end result is a reusable paper which feels very much like regular paper and is not at all like the older, waxy fax paper.
Initially, people would think such a technology would save millions of trees a year since paper could be literally recycled after it serves its use. I am not so sure on that since paper tends to get mangled after it leaves the printer and sits on someone’s desk for 5 minutes. Rather, I see uses in security. Sensitive data could be printed on this medium only to be wiped after it serves its purpose; whereas right now, you run the risk of paper-shredder garbage trolls. Although, I admit there are promising uses for printing agendas, memos, drafts, or other inherently temporary documents.
No ink of any kind is used in the process and the resulting printed pages do not smudge or smear when touched. The pages do degrade over time and currently can last between 16-24 hours before returning to their original blank form. … We do expect further research will be able to control how long the image lasts. You can also immediately erase the paper and use it again by applying a heat source or putting the paper right in the machine to be reprinted.
This is essentially paper that has built in magic ink.
In essence, what makes paper “secure” – in that it can’t be modified after-the-fact – is now gone. If this re-printable paper looks very similar to regular paper (which the article indicates is the goal), it can cause all sorts of problems. Nevertheless, this is a cool technology I look forward to seeing on the market.
One thing that scares me about this invention is that some types of crime become easier. Imagine signing a contract. Then someone erases all of the words on the pages you signed only to print on that paper with a traditional printer afterwards, perfectly replacing the entire contract and having your signature sitting on the dotted line. Paper enters the digital age.
This technology is about giving paper expiration dates where the content demands it, while e-paper is about making digital content more portable. This technology will compete in a whole different market than e-paper – a technology I continue to predict will become the Next Big Thing.