An old-timey technology returns thanks to a NY hardware firm.
Flip-dot displays, and the very similar split-flat displays are pretty old technology by now. They use a magnetic coid to physically actuate a series of discs painted in contrasting colors on either side. You’ll find them on buses, at train stations and other places where pre-digital timetables and messages are still being displayed. They’re pretty cool, but until now, they have been difficult to get your hands on. Occasionally, you might find used displays, but often without a controller, and manufacturers seem few and far apart.
Breakfast, a Brooklyn-based hardware firm specializing in creative marketing has just unveiled their Flip-Disc Display System, a modern take on this aging technology. For one, the driver used to manage the motion of all the dots has been updated. Breakfast designed their own drivers, which use a Cortex-M microcontroller to manipulate the 28×28 pixel display. The displays can be daisy-chained together, making the system very modular, and the display updates at almost 30FPS. Each panel draws about 300mW, and most multi-panel displays will use roughly 25-50W in total.
You can own one today, but you probably can’t afford it. Breakfast asks for minimum orders of 15 panels, and that will set you back about $100,000. It’s not all that much for a large company wanting to show off with some sleek new marketing tech, but surely too much to afford for the average Joe who just wants a cool thing in his living room. Fret not though; the development of the Flip-Disc Display System might be a call for other manufacturers to follow suit. Maybe one day soon, there will be a similar display in a more consumer-friendly price range.