IoT Connected Picture/Desk Frame

An upgraded Picture stand with (almost) seamlessly integrated E-Paper

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I upgraded a simple desk frame by (almost) seamlessly integrating a small ePaper display into it. The applied drawing/photo is printed on transparent foil and can be swapped or personalised to specific needs or likings.

Using Particle's Photon as a controller the display can be easily triggered based on events from the web. As an example here, I linked the desk frame with the status of my mail inbox, but other IFTTT triggers should be easily doable too!

The used ePaper display is meanwhile available at Crowd Supply: - If you like, please support us!

The Hardware

Generally the idea is to integrate a small ePaper display as good as possible into a desk frame to let the user not recognise that there is a display hidden inside a picture (this is possible since ePapers displays have no backlight and are reflective like paper). Obviously this also means that we need to hide the driver electronics including Particle's Photon MCU silently inside the desk frame ;-) Check out the #Paperino project for details.

The actual picture is printed on transparent (copy shop) foil and can be easily changed by your favourite image!

The Software

Particle Photon allows easy triggering of events via IFTTT. However, for this example I used an approach based on this nice example of a Google script: It returns the number of unread GMail emails in my account. All we have to to is to create a webhook based on the obtained URL and update the screen every time when there is a new state status observed. That's it!

Another use case: SPOTIFY frontend

Wondering who this nice song currently running at Spotify is singing? My initial intention was to continuously show the interpreter and song title in a nice way at the desk frame. Since recently this can be polled too based on webhooks, see here more. However my time and abilities are limited ... just leave it here as a nudge:


Cutting file if you have a Silhouette Portrait plotter. Otherwise a hand cutter is totally fine too!

studio3 - 50.78 kB - 05/04/2017 at 14:48



To print on thin paper (e.g. at your favourite Copy shop): Almost white background; adjusted to match with the white state of the ePaper display.

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 967.00 bytes - 05/04/2017 at 14:47



Alternative example to print on transparent foil (e.g. at your favourite Copy shop): Picture to show currently running Spotify song/interpreter

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 910.55 kB - 05/01/2017 at 11:28



To print on transparent foil (e.g. at your favourite Copy shop): Smiley picture

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 24.36 kB - 05/01/2017 at 08:15


Example sketch & EPD library for Adafruits GFX library

Zip Archive - 13.46 kB - 05/01/2017 at 08:03


  • 1 × Particle Photon My favourite, arduino compatible, IoT connected MCU
  • 1 × Paperino_IO E-paper My favourite, arduino compatible ePaper :-)
  • 1 × Desk Picture Frame Should have 2cm or more depth to allow invisible integration of the electronics
  • 1 × Printed & cut out background page To match the white state of the ePaper
  • 1 × Printed Frontcover (e.g. a smiley) The actual picture, leaving some free space along the ePaper area

  • 1
    Step 1

    1. Background template

    I started printing this almost white background page (following the background template provided in the component section). It will then look like this (after cutting outlines and the inner frame where the display will be later attached to): Can you see the display? ;-)

  • 2
    Step 2

    2. Electronics

    After laminating some cardboard to the backside as stiffener the electronics are professionally attached via adhesive tape: The Photon & the Paperino shield.

  • 3
    Step 3

    3. The Desk frame

    Adding some spacers on the edges (should better be more than three) and a small hole for the USB power cable (the location should be better closer to the bottom side)

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