Philips Research has announced it has developed a new colour e-paper technology that could see a whole host of more colourful and personalised gadgets hitting the market.

The new "e-skin", created as part of Philips' ongoing e-paper research, could mean that the colour and appearance of a gadget's surface, with examples given including MP3 players or mobile phones, could be changed to "match your outfit", your mood or environment at the touch of a button.

Needing no backlighting - so good for battery life - and with the e-skin display daylight viewable, the Philips' tech allows different colours of ink on one layer so any shade, and level of transparency, can be produced.

While Philips is waiting to hear from consumer electronics manufacturers who might be interested in licensing e-skins, the new tech, due to be shown off in Japan this month, has the potential to be used in the future for larger area "e-wallpapers".

"The first applications using the technology could be e-skins for small devices such as MP3 players or cell phones. However, the technology is highly scalable", says Kars-Michiel Lenssen, principal scientist at Philips Research.

"In the future it will be possible to use e-skins to bring new colour and a new aura or 'vibe' to much larger equipment".