Book-Style Interface For Web, TV, Radio

Jun-ichiro Watanabe of Hitachi Ltd. was thinking about easy-to-use interfaces for electronic devices when he thought - "Why not use a book as an interface device?"

Books have lots of advantages as data storage devices - they've been popular for about two thousand years. Bibliophiles call the style of book we use today - a set of pages bound together - a "codex." The word "codex" is derived from the latin word "caudex" referring to the trunk of a tree; the pages grow from the spine of the book like like the branches of a tree grow from the trunk.

Unlike a scroll, a codex-style book is a random-access device; you don't need to unroll it to get to a specific page. It is easily held in the hands; it is easy to see how much material there is. For example, you can't tell by looking at this page on the Technovelgy site that there are about eight thousand other pages to look at.


(Watanabe's book browser)

Watanabe created a "book" that can be used to search through and easily access content as varied as radio stations, TV channels and bookmarked web sites. In his design (shown above), 0.8-mm-thick light dependent resistors (LDRs), which measure brightness, are attached to each page and the front and back covers. Opening the book turns on the electronic device (like a TV). When the user turns to a page, the channel corresponding to that page appears on the TV. The same principle is used to access different radio stations (by connecting to the radio) or web sites (when connected to an Internet-enabled computer).

Apparently, Watanabe plans to research the use of electronic paper for the device. What he should really do is read science fiction author Neal Stephenson's 1995 novel The Diamond Age. In the novel, Stephenson provides details about the runcible, which Watanabe seems to be inching slowly toward.

Smart paper consisted of a network of infinitesimal computers sandwiched between mediatrons. A mediatron was a thing that could change its color from place to place...

It had nothing ... on Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery, each sheet folded four times into a sixteen-page signature, thirty-two signatures brought together in a spine that, in addition to keeping the book from falling apart, functioned as an enormous switching system and database.
(Read more about Neal Stephenson's Runcible)

Rather than using the book as an interface for a separate computer, the Runcible is both the book and the computer.

MIT's Media Lab has also done some work on the same idea. In a paper by J. Jacobson, B. Comiskey, C. Turner, J. Albert, and P. Tsao, they refer to "The Last Book:"

Such a book has hundreds of electronic page displays formed on real paper. On the spine are a small display and several buttons. The user may leaf through several thousand titles, select one he or she likes, wait a fraction of a second and open the book to read King Lear. When done with King Lear, another title may be selected; after the same waiting period, the user opens Steve Weinberg's General Relativity. As the reader might suspect, we need to completely reinvent the electronic display before considering such an endeavor.

Take a look at these two real-world technologies that are bringing us closer to practical Runcibles:

Read more about browsing media by flipping through a book; take a look at this early paper about The last book.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/29/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Display ")

WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...' - Douglas Adams, 1979.

Transparent OLED TV By Panasonic
It's the look of things to come.

Cicret Makes Your Skin Into A Display
'On the translucent mica-like coverings over the orifices, appeared reddish characters...' - Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

Organic Photonic Skin Display
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...' - John Varley, 1992.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Bat Bot Robotic Flapping-Wing Drone
'The dark birdforms dotted the mountaintops like statues of prehistoric beasts, wings outspread...'

NASA's Astronaut Rescue Ball
'Ball and closely-prisoned man plummeted downward..'

ARM Wants To Build Brain Chips
'Slivers of microsoft, angular fragments of colored silicon...'

Sky Fence - A Drone-Proof Shield Created Over Prison
'There’s still a protective field over the whole thing. It volatilizes anything that tries to get through.'

Geoengineering The Atmosphere For Climate Change
'...a uniform temperature for each degree of latitude the year round.'

Archinaut Orbiting Robotic Factory
'mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Cryonic Preservation - The Last Perk You'll Ever Need
'Is there not also a law providing for voluntary suspension of animation?'

Computers Understand Humans By Watching And Modeling Them
Soon, your computer will be watching you... and judging you.

NASA Asks For Moon To Earth Delivery Ideas
'Authority's 3-g catapult was almost one hundred kilometers long...'

Musk Tunnels Wisely Restrict Drivers
Too many robots.

Robot Swarms Controlled With Augmented Reality
'You're not thinking in enough dimensions...'

MIT's C-LEARN Helps Robots Transfer Learning To Other Robots
'Talk Between Robots radio...'

Mini-Brains In A Dish
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

Rapid Automated Search For Habitable Planets Needed
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

WatchSense Perfect For Fat-Fingered Smartwatch Owners
'Now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components...'

Digital Construction Platform Robot 3D Prints A Building
'It extrudes material like a spider.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.