I am not terribly organised and frequently discover I’m supposed to be in a meeting as either my phone starts beeping and flashing or - if I’ve left that somewhere - a friendly soul PMs me to ask where I am. I desired building an actual thing and thought I’d try and solve this problem.
I quickly thought of building something with a screen that can sit on my desk and display upcoming events. I had a Raspberry Pi sitting about and was confident I could figure out the code, I just needed a screen and something to hold it all together.
There are plenty of LCD screens available that would integrate easily with the Pi. There are even touch screens. My desk already holds two gargantuan monitors and I feared another backlit screen might make my eyes upset.
I eventually settled on using e-ink: there’s no back-lighting, I don’t need colour, and I only want to display static content. If I could build this well, I could have something that doesn’t look like a device at all.
The proper e-ink developer kits start around $1000. I looked into jail-breaking my Kindle and easing it out of the casing but my device is the Alcatraz of Kindles and its generation has let to be broken out. I briefly fell in love with the giant Kindle DX, with a 9.7” display, but these were expensive to acquire and I’d probably have felt bad tearing it apart.
I eventually stumbled upon a company called Pervasive Displays, they were mentioned in a forum post about a tiny screen someone had included in a project. After further digging, I found a 7.4” 1-bit screen that I could get hold of for about $150.