The United States Patent and Trademark Office has published a Google patent application for a dual-screen ebook reader, according to a recent summary of its issuance by Patent Bolt. The patent reportedly describes a device that is capable of producing high refresh rates with various epaper displays. The proposed device will also be able to connect with a keyboard and mouse and run various applications outside of basic ebook reading capabilities.

A Seamless Reading Experience

Google’s patent displays drawings of an ebook reader that resembles two tablets placed side by side with a hinge connecting their edges. The drawings include arrows that show off the hinge’s ability to bend back and forth, allowing users to collapse each screen inward like a traditional book or bend each screen back to back.

The patent, in its own Figure 7A, points out the device’s camera, located above the device’s left-hand screen. Patent Bolt describes in detail the benefits this camera may bring to a user, starting first with its ability to detect eye movements: “The computing device 700 includes an [sic] camera (image capture device #750) that could be used, at least in part, to detect whether a user has moved to consume content,” Patent Bolt says.

Essentially, the camera could be used to follow the movement of a user’s retina. For instance, a user may be reading page two of a book on the device’s right-hand display. The device could then automatically refresh content on the left-hand display to switch from page one to page three, because it knows which page the user is reading. With this capability, the camera could potentially create a seamless reading experience via targeted page refreshes. This eye-tracking capability, Patent Bolt points out, could be supplemented by reading modes that either allow or disallow the refreshing of pages.

A disallowing mode could be useful for other features of the device, as well. The patent describes the device as capable of interfacing with a keyboard and mouse, which naturally begs the question of what operating system the ebook reader will use. Patent Bolt does not address the issue in its summary, so users can only speculate about what the OS may be. However, a keyboard and mouse interface may point to a form of Android, the Google-developed OS in use on its Nexus tablets. Ebook reader mainstay Kindle runs its own proprietary operating system on its own devices. It may be possible for Google to modify Android, if necessary, to work with the device described in its patent.

The Benefits of Electronic Paper

Epaper displays don’t work like traditional backlit displays on Nexus tablets. Instead of electronically lit pixels, displays like the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center-developed Gyricon use a series of small beads that move within oil-filled cavities. The beads are bichromal—of two colors—and rotate from white to black, for example, when placed under an electric current.

These types of displays can typically hold their position without draining a device’s battery. As a result, this new ebook reader could see dramatically improved battery life compared to its tablet counterparts. If Google can incorporate modern-day apps within this type of device setup, users could have a whole new mobile experience on their hands.

How would you use a dual-screen display on your e-book reader?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons




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