Active Reading Machine Information Appliance

Design and describe your active reading machine information appliance. Include a detailed original illustrated drawing (done by me with arrows and notes).

The Active Reading Machine should have the following characteristics.

Configuration 1

One alternative for the Active Reading Machine is to be a head-up system that allows the person to read information while attending to other tasks. For example a person using the machine may be looking at a picture in a museum and at the same time be reading the biography of the painter. Another example would be a car driver who can read a map while still looking at the road. This configuration is implemented using a wearable computer system.

The system has three components:

Head Device

Figure1. Head Device

The head device counts with speakers in case that sound effects are appropriate. It counts with a microphone to allow voice input. Speech recognition software allows the use of verbal commands to control the system. Other input is allowed by the alternative input devices.

Figure 2. Overlapping of system information and real world images

The system generated text and images would be proyected on some glasses that human is wearing. The metaphor is still papper-based, but it also allows the use of tranparency-based metaphor. The organizing metaphor is a composite metaphor of paper-based metaphor (opaque) and transparency-based metaphor (transparent). This kind of technology is being reasearched at MIT [MIT 1998] and other institutions. This way the human may still see-through the text and image or read the information. This way allows to create virtual "pages" of any size. This allows a person to read while still attending to other task. Figure 2 shows the example of a car driver. The person can read the map (in red), while still paying attention to the road.

CPU Unit

Figure 3. CPU Unit

The CPU unit contains the computing facilities, remote communications and local access to data storage. The communication with all the other devices is wireless.

Alternative Input Devices

Figure 4. Alternative Input Devices

In the case that other input style is more appropriate than the voice commands, other devices can be used. Figure 4 shows two possible devices. In this example both use wireless communications. The data glove can be use for gesture inputs and pointing. The portable "chord" keyboard is used for textual input.

This configuration could be integrated with a system such as a redesigned Memex. Nevertheless this configuration differs on its physical nature from paper. It is invasive in the sense that imposes the necessity of "wearing" the system. A more natural implementation is shown next.

Configuration 2

Another alternative is to be a small computer device symilar to a very thin computer notebook. This device reseambles Kay's dynabook and Mel's Tablet. This alternative represents a more easy to implement than the previous one. The display medium should be eye-friendly, preferable it should not emit light unless the situation requires it. For instance if a person is trying to read at night, then the display can be set to "glow mode". The display is 100% flicker free and it is always eye-friendly. The size of the display is letter size, but the display can be rolled in order to make it two pages wide.

Figure 5.Tablet-like Active Reading Machine

The disadvantage of a system like this, is that the size of the display imposes sever limitations on the size of a "page" and on the simultaneous, collateral display of multiple "pages". This limitation is partially sovled by using flexible, rollable displays. Figure 5 shows the architecture of the system. The idea is that one piece of paper is shown on the screen. Annotation can be done in the same way that on a piece of paper. The rollable screen also resembles paper. It allows to expand the display size in order to display two pages simultaneously. For more information on plastic displays and flexible displays see [ZDNN 1998].

Figure 6. Extended roll-up display

This configuration presents an integrated approach very appropriate with the paper-based metaphor. It also represents an easier to implement alternative than the previous configuration. Due to the acceptance of paper in most culteres around the world, this device would be accepted as a natural evolution of paper.

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