I suspect that for most people, the term “xerox” conjures up images of paper thanks to the American document management company of the same name. Xerox (the company) is more than just photocopiers and printers though – the company has a long history of research and development. And they are at it again, this time trying to apply the Three R’s to paper:
[Brinda Dalal’s] research is part of a three-year-old technology development effort to design an add-on system for an office copier to produce “transient documents” that can be easily reused. The researchers now have a prototype system that will produce documents on a specially coated paper with a light yellow tint. Currently, the process works without toner and produces a low-resolution document that appears to be printed with purple ink.
The printed information on the document “disappears” within 16 hours. The documents can be reused more quickly by simply placing them in the copier paper tray. The researchers said that individual pieces of paper had been printed on up to 50 times, and the only current limit in the process appears to be paper life.
The idea makes sense to me. Companies have already reduced the amount of paper they need to use, so Xerox sees an opportunity to help them reuse and recycle it too. The end goal is to try to reduce the amount of paper that companies actually use.
Those of you who know me fairly well are probably confused because normally I am championing the death of paper, not reading about ways to extend its lifetime. As much as I would like to have everything stored and presented digitally, I realize we’re not there yet. And, as the article points out, a complete change to bits and bytes isn’t likely to happen anytime soon:
“People really like paper,” said Eric Shrader, a computer scientist who is area manager for printing systems at the Hardware Systems Laboratory of the research center, which is known as PARC. “They like the way it feels.”
Until e-paper is perfected, this paper erasing technology Xerox is working on might work quite well indeed.
Read: CNET News.com