Browse digital media by flipping through a book

Apr 25, 2007 By Lisa Zyga feature
Book browser prototype: (a) Front cover. (b) Pages. (c) Electronics hidden in back cover. (d) Close-up of electronics. Credit: Watanabe. ©2007 IEEE.

As the amount of information on the Internet, TV and radio continues to increase, one of the challenges users face is how to quickly find what they're looking for. As Jun-ichiro Watanabe of Hitachi Ltd. researched this question, he thought what could be a simpler, large-capacity, and more intuitive browser than an old-fashioned book?

“I first started thinking about ‘future radio,’ and the possibility of mapping every radio station to the pages of a book,” Watanabe told PhysOrg.com. "Listening to radio like reading a book was the initial idea or concept.”

With Watanabe’s book, users can search and access content such as TV channels, digital radio stations, bookmarked Web sites, as well as photo, audio or movie files stored on a hard drive. While current search methods—such as multiple clicking or pressing buttons, graphical user interfaces, and excessive scrolling—can handle smaller amounts of data, they become more complex and time-consuming as the data increases. Books, on the other hand, are interactive, can contain large amounts of information—and don’t crash.

“The main audience for this type of device is people who aren’t into technology,” Watanabe said. “I wanted to develop a UI [user interface] which does not change people's natural, traditional behavior, like turning over the pages.”

In this design, 0.8-mm-thick light dependant resistors (LDRs), which measure brightness, are attached to each page and the front and back covers. A peripheral interface controller (PIC) hidden in the back cover senses what page the book is open to (or if it’s closed) from the LDRs, and uses Bluetooth to wirelessly send the state of the book to the target device (e.g. TV or PC).

The different states of the book have straightforward meanings: opening the book turns the device on, closing the book turns it off; turning the pages switches pre-set content (such as TV channels); and turning the book upside down mutes the device. Users can operate the book anywhere within about 15 feet from the target device.

Watanabe has already used the device for several applications, including a TV remote control. To connect the remote control to the book, Watanabe “hacked” the remote using a PIC and relays, allowing him to switch the buttons on the remote by operating the book. He did the same thing with a digital radio control, digital photo viewer, and bookmarked Web sites.

In the future, Watanabe plans to research how electronic paper might be used in the book. Electronic paper could enable even more options, while providing color images and flexible pages. For example, Watanabe hopes to prototype functions such as play, pause, rewind, etc. Also, the content is currently manually pre-set, and Watanabe plans to develop software to make this work easier.

As simple and straightforward as the book browser is, the device also extends to the deeper modern concept of bridging the gap between the paper and electronic worlds.

“I think paper gives a new interface to the digital world,” Watanabe said. “This bridging will fill the gap between people who aren't into technology and the digital world.”

Citation: Watanabe, Jun-ichiro. “A Device for Easily Browsing Various Content Using the Metaphor of Reading Poetry.” IEEE Transactions on Consumer Electronics, Vol. 53, No. 1, February 2007.

Copyright 2007 PhysOrg.com.
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com.

Explore further: Standalone wireless info display device an easy fit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Standalone wireless info display device an easy fit

12 hours ago

A Latvian team has come up with a good-looking WiFi display device, connecting to the Internet using WiFi, which runs on a high-capacity built-in battery and tracks what's important to you. This is a standalone ...

Technology improves avalanche gear for backcountry skiers

13 hours ago

As outdoor recreation companies increasingly cater to skiers and snowboarders who like to venture beyond the groomed slopes at ski resorts and tackle backcountry terrain, they've put a special emphasis on gear and equipment ...

Your future office desk may remind you, hey, to move it

Jan 23, 2015

Workers in all industries know by now that having a "desk" job might have its perks but frequent exercise is not one of them. Ample warnings from health experts have been headlined in the press reminding ...

Hands-on with Microsoft's hologram device

Jan 23, 2015

Microsoft didn't use skydivers or stunt cyclists to introduce what it hopes will be the next big leap in computing technology. Instead, with its new HoloLens headset, the company is offering real-world examples ...

Review: New TV tech focuses on better picture

Jan 22, 2015

It's taken them a while to get there, but TV makers now seem to think that the way to improve the boob tube - and sell more sets at higher prices - is by having it display a better-looking picture.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.