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 ")

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.' - Jack Vance, 1971.

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.' - William Gibson, 1986.

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.

 

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

BrainEx Restores Some Activity To Severed Pig Head
'... they placed the brain in a special solution, having all the properties of Nursing the brain cells.'

Yes, But Do Astrobees Have Lasers For Lightsaber Training?
'... Ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid.'

'Young Razorbacks Before Their Katanas Grow In'
'Twin robotic arms with gleaming three-foot sword blades unfolded from the forward hydraulic assemblies...'

A New Way To Run Into Things
'He made an adjustment, pointed the tube at the wall beside Etzwane, and projected a cone of light.'

'Metallic Wood' Strong Like Titanium, Floats In Water
'A metal... light as cork and stronger than steel...'

Seabreacher, H.G. Winter's 1939 Torpoon
'Ken lay full-length in the padded body compartment, his feet resting on the controlling bars of the directional planes, hands on the torpoon's engine levers.'

Abundant Robotics Autonomous Apple Harvester Robot
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant... cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Charging An Electric Car In 2019 (Video), 1912 (Photo) And 1894 (Fiction)
'Recharge the batteries... in almost every town and village...'

Japan Uses Explosives On Asteroid
'...a tiny, rocket-powered projectile, drove towards the mysterious bulk. It hit, exploding into a cloud of incandescent vapour.'

Get Your Speeder Flying Motorcycle From Jetpack Aviation
'The flycycles were miracles of compact design.'

FLIR Black Hornet 3 Palm-sized Drone
These drones can provide situational awareness beyond visual line-of-sight capability.

Dockworkers Protest Driverless Trucks
'It resembled conventional human-operated transportation vehicles, but with one exception -- there was no driver's cabin.'

Flying Car Concept By Kash Sirinanda
'Each one consists of a hub with many tiny spokes... On the end is a squat foot, rubber tread on the bottom...'

Unfurl The Future! Huawei Mate X versus Galaxy Fold
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently from the top of the unit and immediately grew rigid.'

Amazon Echo And Google Home Should Have Morality Software
'The Dwoskin Morality Rating-Computer could 'spot the slightest tendency to deviation' from the social norm...'

China Building Robot Wives
'Want a life-companion, a pleasant one?'

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.