"Wait, what??? did I miss a few years of tech?"
I bet a lot of us had the same reaction best expressed in a comment about yesterday's news that a September issue of Entertainment Weekly will come out with an insert sporting mini video screens to promote Pepsi and CBS's fall line-up. Not particularly impressed with the execution of the Esquire's eInk cover stunt, many wondered what kind of technology would be powering the screens that apparently can run up to 40 minutes of video each.
CNET has some answers: "The technology for the battery-powered ads was manufactured by a Los Angeles-based company called Americhip. The screen, which is 2.7 millimeters thick, has a 320x240 resolution. The battery lasts for about 65 to 70 minutes, and can be recharged, believe it or not, with a mini USB cord--there's a jack on the back of it. The screen, which uses thin film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT LCD) technology, is enforced by protective polycarbonate. It's a product that has been in development at Americhip for about two years, spokesman Tim Clegg told CNET News via e-mail."
Financial Times quotes an ad exec on a potential price tag: "One magazine industry executive with knowledge of the technology estimated that running one video ad in 100,000 copies would cost in the low seven-figure range. That would translate into a cost of several dollars per copy. By contrast, a full-page colour ad in Entertainment Weekly costs about 9 cents a page per copy."
I like it. I also like how it creates an entirely new channel for video content distribution. In a few years, disposable video players will be something you pick up from a vending machine in the morning on your way to work, on in the airport.
Update [Aug 21 '09]: 1) Oh, this thing would be useful on some packaging too. 2) AgencySpy got a video of the insert in action.
P.S. I remember posting about a video business card back in 2005.