Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Super Books

I've been thinking about electronic paper - you know, rolls like paper, thin like paper, image can change as needed.

There's a common sci-fi object - an electronic book. An electronic book is made of electronic paper and some kind of computery system to control what displays on the pages.

It always seemed thoroughly pointless to me. You wouldn't need multiple pages. The computer can "turn the page" without you having to physically turn the page.

But there is a use.

Imagine if each page of "paper" is a self-contained wifi-driven computer. Maybe it's paper the thickness of a credit card, with the edges not more electronic paper, but instead wafer-thin electronics.

Each page of paper could then be attached (magnetically, say) to the spine of the book. Or detached.

Then what you could do is disassemble the book. If there's something you need, "rip it out" and put it next to you where you can refer to it, play with it, change it however you need. When you're done, stick it back into the book.

It would effectively be a set of portable monitors - perhaps two dozen small monitors. They're relatively cheap, so you could actually pass them back and forth between collaborators... they're self-contained, frungible, and use insignificant power, so you could actually separate them from their book for a long time, swap them, submit papers on them, use them as game pieces... anything.

Now that, I think... that would be really useful. I would give up books and, probably, every other computer for that.


Ryan said...

Great, you've panned out the usage cases, now to let technology catch up. :P

WiFi for each page would cause a lot of interference. Even if you put each page on a different channel, you wouldn't be able to have two books near each other.

Craig Perko said...

I thought you just said to let technology catch up?

I presume that in the fairly near future we'll have a wifi-type system that has unlimited channels... or some kind of cross-talk protocol. Mesh network. Literal internet pages, ahar-har.

Ryan said...

I realize that a lot of people use WiFi to mean any sort of wireless communication, but to me, WiFi means a specific thing.

I'm not sure that unlimited channels will ever be possible- channels refers divisions within the bounds of the electromagnetic spectrum which are assigned to a particular technology. You could technically use WiFi channel 500, but then you'd be in the frequency range of something else that isn't WiFi. If you make the channels too small (decrease the range of frequencies a channel covers) then you'll increase the noise in all of them.

Craig Perko said...

Sorry. "Some wireless technology that allows devices to communicate with each other in a vaguely secure manner that may or may not be based on an existing wireless protocol."

Seriously, magnets didn't upset you more?

Ryan said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to be so teachy.

What's wrong with magnets? They won't be moving fast enough to do any harm.

Craig Perko said...

The pages would repel each other! How would they all stick in the book?

Ryan said...

I figured it'd just be a magnetic strip on the side of each page. I haven't put as much thought into magnets. ;)

Craig Perko said...

Well, any way the cookie crumbles, I'd buy one. Hell, I'd just buy a page, if it's developed first.