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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )
Related News Stories -
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.
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
Apparently, it is very hard to do. We've been patient, though.
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.
Superstrong Multilayer Metal-Graphene Composite Material
Negligible increase in weight increased material strength by hundreds of times.
Deepfakes Imperil Democracy (George Orwell, Right Again)
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'
String Art Courtesy Of Robot Artist
The number of different ways to span a thread between a larger number of hooks is astronomical.
Still Wondering If You'd Work For A Robot Boss?
'This is all coming to you courtesy of the simstim unit wired into your deck, of course.'
World's First Autonomous Tram In Germany
What's it like for autonomous trams when they're turned off at night?
Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'
Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.
Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'
How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'
PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'
Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.
Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.
International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'
Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.
IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'
ZKZM-500 LASER Assault Rifle
'The Iranian reached back into the locker and got a pair of laserifles.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories