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 ")

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.' - Charles Stross, 2007.

Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...' - William Gibson, 1986.

'Princess Leia Project' Images That Float In The Air
Help me, Daniel Smalley; you're our only hope.

LG Rollable Version Of Niven's Poster TV
'A television that unrolled like a poster.' - Larry Niven, 1976.

 

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

North Focals Smart Glasses Provide Augmented Reality In Style
'The world ... is drenched in unfamiliar information all the way to the horizon.'

Tesla Driver Caught Napping Behind The Wheel
'Mary Risling settled back for a little nap...'

Hayabusa 2 To Begin Asteroid Mining
'We must dig down, and then doubtless we shall find the metal.'

Ionocraft Drone Powered By Electrohydrodynamic Thrust
'He saw one hiss by him as he rounded the corner, trailing a short whip antenna...'

Purdue Pharma Ready To Profit From OxyContin Use Or Addiction Recovery
'It may be organic damage. It may be permanent. Time'll tell, and only after you are off Substance D for a long while.'

BloxVox Mutes Cellphone Convos
It's the polite thing to do, and has been the polite thing to do for about four generations.

Superfast Replicator: Volumetric Additive Manufacturing
I can't wait. Bring it on.

DNA May Contain Malware
'You were told to embed the logical pathogen.'

I Can't Resist Worm Robots
'Seen close it was not completely flexible...'

Rplate Digital License Plates Now Legal In Michigan
'Gragg's digital ink license plates ...'

Can Musk Starship Astronauts Use Magnetic Boots?
'Walking awkwardly in the magnetic boots that held him to the black mass of meteoric iron...'

Giant Dolphin Spotted On Jupiter!
'Now at last he could appreciate its real size and complexity...'

Musk's Starship An SF Fan's Dream Come True
Perfect for testing, perfect for fans!

TinyMobileRobots Are Sewer Sentinels
Every movie monster gets its start someplace.

Fishy Facial Recognition Now Possible
'Palenkis can identify random line patterns better than any other species in the universe.'

Spicy Tomatoes Created With Genetic Engineering
How about mashed potatoes and brown gravy?

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.