Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is already used in a number of products including digital wallets and pairing devices to smartphones but did you also know it can be used to wirelessly power an E-ink display? Yeah, me either, but it’s true.

Created by a team of researchers and students at Intel Labs, the University of Washington and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the NFC-WISP E-Ink Display Tag uses NFC technology and a low-power E-ink panel to both receive data and power from an Android smartphone without any wires.

Specifically, NFC uses inductive coupling to provide power to passive tags and the E-ink display uses this to its advantage with the help of a wireless power harvester microchip and a 1mAh battery. Don’t expect massive power without wires just yet but it’s enough to power the 2.7-inch display with enough stored energy to cycle through images when not paired with the phone.

It may seem a bit useless (and perhaps it is) but the technology could be used to power a secondary smartphone display. The E-ink screen could show things like a shopping list, maps and directions without having to enable your smartphone’s power-hungry screen. We’re told that around 20 images can be stored on the device’s 0.5MB of memory.

The researchers plan to publish a paper on the project at the 2013 Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing next month. The ultimate plan is to get the project stable enough and documented enough to open source the software and hardware by the end of the year.