Written by Barb Consiglio.
Despite an increasingly digital world, people still love to put pen to paper. However, notebooks, sticky notes and documents can quickly take over any office. Kent Displays offers a solution to the paper clutter with their Boogie Board® eWriters, which provide the same look and feel of paper, but can erase with the touch of a button. Based in Kent, Ohio, the company sells their products through retailers in more than 30 countries and recently began marketing directly to industries where eWriters are most useful and could have a big impact.
“Educators can use eWriters to teach children to write, while healthcare industry professionals can use them to allow patients to communicate when they can’t speak,” said Dr. Albert Green, CEO of Kent Displays. “They’re also very versatile in an office setting for jotting down notes. For instance, many call centers that handle private information like credit card numbers use our eWriters to quickly record information while on the phone, then easily and permanently erase it when they’re done.”
Boogie Board eWriters get the pen on paper feel from advanced technology developed through a partnership between Kent Displays and Kent State University. Each eWriter has a liquid crystal display surface similar to those used for laptops and televisions. However, the crystals are structured to allow them to flow at different rates. When the display surface is sandwiched between two pieces of specialized plastic within the eWriter case, the crystals flow and reflect light based on the pressure from the stylus. This reveals what the user is writing, making it look and feel just like writing on paper.
When Green joined Kent Displays as CEO in 2007, the company only manufactured the liquid crystal surface to be used in other company’s products. Green saw the opportunity to expand to the consumer market, and led the development of technology to create the company’s first eWriter. Boogie Board eWriters are now sold around the world, earning Kent Displays the title of “2016 Ohio Small Business Exporter of the Year” by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Kent Displays received early funding from Ohio Third Frontier to further develop the display materials and create a unique manufacturing process. The advancement allowed Kent Displays to mass produce its eWriters and release them in the retail market.
Green says Kent Displays’ continued growth and improvement in advanced materials relies on northeast Ohio’s strong manufacturing industry, as well as the area’s research organizations.
“The culture of manufacturing and product development in Ohio was critical for us, especially in the early stages when we were looking for the best way to bring the eWriters to consumers,” said Green. “Having these assets has helped us get to where we are today, selling our products in 30 countries and growing.”