Here’s a neat idea about how handheld tech could help regular librarians. ReadWriteWeb reports that a study group at Miami University has come up with an augmented reality Android app that could allow librarians to tell at a glance when books on library shelves are out of order, by using a built-in camera to read tags attached to the spine of shelved books and superimposing indications of which books are out of place. It will also generate inventory reports.
It wouldn’t work for very thin books, such as those found in children’s sections, but could be very helpful for others when it gets out of the prototype stage. As the son of two librarians, I can say unequivocally that this is really neat stuff.
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It wasn’t too long ago when there used to be a niche segment where we would come across e-readers that exhibited a certain degree of flexibility. Often and on there would be pictures of e-reader bend to some extent which would hold us in awe. Unfortunately, none of them ever turned out to be a market success and it was left to only the conventional and inflexible e-reader to satisfy the e-book loving crowd.
However, it seems such bendable e-readers are back again, thanks to a group of researchers based in Taiwan who claim to have hit upon a novel way of devising electronics that could withstand bending and shearing forces up to some extent. And the most surprising aspect of it all, our good old silk fabric is the center of it all. For it’s all about a technique that comprises of silk in liquid form, which is converted to a membrane that exhibits properties of insulators and can function as flexible thin film transistors.
The method has been devised by an engineering professor along with two post graduate students at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University and have stated they are already in discussion with a few manufacturers. Needless to say, the technology holds a lot of promise and could well be the material of the e-readers, LED displays and RFD tags of future.
The use of silk for the manufacture of electronic devices can also lead to a lot of savings cost wise as it is estimated that its just .03 worth of silk that would be required for every device. Then silk being a natural fiber also means the damage done to the environment is also the least. Much less than what plastics usually do.
There is no word though as to when we might get to see a silk e-reader in a real world scenario sharing retail space with perhaps the Kindle and the Nooks of the future.
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sony ebook:Sony Canada, Blyth Academy and Pearson Canada make digital textbooks a reality
Embracing the benefits of electronic reading, students at Blyth Academy are today beginning the transition from using traditional printed textbooks to digital textbooks read on the Sony® Reader Digital Book. Blyth Academy is the first high school in the world to announce that each student will be supplied with an e-Reader in place of printed textbooks.
Trouble reading on your iPhone without walking into things? E-book app MegaReader may have you covered. It’s just added a “heads up display” feature, which uses the camera on camera-equipped iPhones (and presumably the iPod Touch 4; earlier Touch owners would be out of luck) to superimpose the text of what you’re reading over a view of what’s in front of you.
Whether or not the feature would be useful in “real life” (would being able to see a view through the camera while reading really keep you from running into things?), it does provide an excuse for a hilarious promotional video.
(Found via Engadget.)
Our sister blog Appletell points to an interesting iPhone app that might just point the way to the future of digital translation devices. The app, Word Lens, is an augmented reality app that will translate English words it sees into Spanish words, or vice versa, superimposing the translation in place of the original words on the screen.
This brings to reality what digital fansubbers have been doing for a lot of Japanese animation over the last few years: rather than just adding translations as subtitles at the bottom of the screen, they’ve actually been erasing the text of signs, letters, notes, and so on and painting translations directly into their place, often so well you can’t even tell it was done after the show was made. (It’s really amazing how far fansubbing has come; these works often look as good as or better than professionally-produced versions.)
At the moment, Word Lens can only translate between English and Spanish, but other language packs will be coming soon. I wonder how effective it will be on pages of foreign-language books or magazines?
One thing’s for sure: this is going to be an even bigger helper than phrasebooks for overseas travelers.