h a l f b a k e r y
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If you own a Kindle, you may or may not have discovered
that it has a magnetic sensor, and that if you put your
Kindle in the right case it will power up when you open the
case and power down when you close it.
At one point I thought it would be a nice trick to have a
case that held two kindles
side by side, both reading the
same book with the text spilling from the left one to the
right, and the pages being turned by closing and re-opening
the case, somewhat like flipping the pages of the book.
Cool, but ultimately a bit annoying to do all that page
turning, compared to just the single touch that is needed
with the actual Kindle.
But today I had an idea that keeps the book-like feel of
having two screens, without the hassle of turning pages
awkwardly... with a cell-phone style camera fitted at the
top of each display, it could very cheaply determine which
of the two screens you were looking at by checking to see
which photograph of your eye was closest to circular. (It
would also help the eye direction recognition if the two
pages were slightly angled as in a real book, not both
Then when your gaze moved from the right page back to
the left page, it would change the pages on the screen like
flipping the page of a book. (Or if you don't mind them
being out of order, it could update the left page as soon as
you move on to the right page, so it is in place and ready
when you move from the right back to the left, without
needing a screen refresh delay. At that point it would
update the right hand page which you are no longer looking
I know the description sounds awkward but if you imagine
the actual process, it is really simple and natural - you just
read, and never need to press any buttons to go to the
And from the marketing point of view, this could double
sales! - rather than selling a special dual version of the
Kindle, they would make this a feature of all Kindles and
have them communicate with their neighbour (near field or
BT or wifi - mechanism is not important), and the product
would be the dual-kindle case. Amazon would make their
money from doubling Kindle sales rather than from the
Well, I would buy one :-) How about you guys?
||However, many larger tablets have a front-facing camera - so all the hardware is already there; it's just a matter of writing the app.
||What if you move your eyes from the right page to the left
page, to re-read something on that page? An auto page-flip
will seriously interfere!
||Well, from my personal experience in reading paper books -
I might occasionally skip back a paragraph within the page if
I mis-parsed a sentence and have to re-read it, but I don't
find myself often going back to the previous page. Do you?
||Undoubtedly some fine tuning will be necessary to handle
cases like that and perhaps an area of the screen to touch to
undo an unwanted page turn, but I don't see that as a deal-
killer. I'ld definitely like to try this and see what it feels
||@8th of 7: Good point! Though holding two Kindle Fire
tablets (or worse, anything larger like an iPad) is going to
be more like reading a hardback or a coffee-table book
than the experience of a paperback which is what I was
aiming for! (I'ld love a case that was an actual
||I wish the Kindle e-ink devices had a screen that was edge
to edge. They're physically about the right size but the
display is too small compared to paperbacks, which have
evolved over almost a hundred years to be the ideal
format for reading on the go. A happy medium between
fitting in an average pocket and having enough text on
the page so as not to require too frequent page turning.
With Kindles, to get the same amount of text on a page,
you currently have to set the type way too small for my
aging eyes. Hence why two pages visible at once appeals.
I read sufficiently quickly that the slow screen refresh of
an e-ink page is actually an annoyance to me as it breaks
the flow, so by having two screens and double-buffering
the text, you move the refresh to a time when you finish
a page, not when you start a new one.
||Any eye-tracking app adapted by a competent programmer could nail this.
||Some smartphones already have gaze tracking features,
using the front camera. I've seen applications of such
technology to pause videos when you look away from
the screen, and to avoid going to sleep when you're
looking at the screen.
||Therefore, I would be totally unsurprised if an existing
e-reader app had such a feature to turn the pages. I do
like the physical double-buffering in your idea, though.
||However, in my experience, the gaze tracking wasn't
very reliable. It would only pick up my gaze once every
few weeks, and only for a few seconds, leading to a
notification appearing, and then usually disappearing
before I could check what it was. I eventually learned
what the icon meant. You might need more advanced
gaze tracking hardware.
||Also, turn one page while the reader's eyes are about
85% of the way down the next page. Then looking back