Kent company revolutionizes writing with environmentally friendly eWriter

Julianne Calapa

Kent Displays, Inc. aims to change the way people write with the creation of the Boogie Board, a paperless and eco-friendly eWriter.

Kent Displays was co-founded in 1993 by former Kent State University Liquid Crystal Institute Director J. William Doane, said Ryan Merlene, Kent Displays marketing coordinator. Today, the company has grown into a world leader in liquid crystal display development and research.

The original Boogie Board eWriter was launched in 2010. The first few thousand Boogie Boards available on Amazon sold out within the first hour, Merlene said.

The Boogie Board allows users to write or draw on its display with the help of Reflex LCD technology, which causes liquid crystals to immediately reflect when subjected to pressure. An erase button on the device uses a small amount of power to reset the crystals and clear the display.

“Writing being integrated into products is becoming more of a trend than it used to be,” said Hunter Morris, industrial designer for Kent Displays.

The company offers three different Boogie Board lines, Morris said. The first is the Original, which is the standard Boogie Board product. The second is the Sync, which allows users to write on the display and save to various devices via Bluetooth. The third is the Jot, which is a pocket-sized version of the Original. A broad range of audiences are targeted for the Boogie Board.

“This a tool that you can use whether you’re in grade school learning how to write, around the house looking for something to put your grocery list on or something to replace a notebook you’re carrying around”, Merlene said. The Boogie Board is about the same size as a tablet but offers something completely different.

“We’re not really competing with tablets,” Merlene said. “We’re trying to get people who have tablets to realize that the Boogie Board is a much better writing experience.”

In addition to retailers and online shops, the Boogie Board is also sold at the Kent State University Bookstore in the Student Center.

Tom Parsons, department manager of the Flash Technology Center in the University Bookstore, said there is a high volume of Boogie Boards sold to students for taking notes because the written items can be synced and saved to students’ devices.

Kent Displays recently unveiled two new Boogie Board eWriters, the Play N’ Trace and the Jot 8.5, at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show. The devices will be available later this year.

Mass retail of the Boogie Board is the ultimate goal for Kent Displays as the researchers continue producing and designing new versions of Boogie Boards.

“We want to put a Boogie Board in every persons’ hands,” Merlene said.

Contact Julianne Calapa at [email protected].