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Text 2.0: the book that knows it's being read

Text 2.0

By Stuart Turton in Hannover

Posted on 5 Mar 2010 at 11:05

The future of eBook readers could be text that knows it's being read, according to researchers.

Text 2.0, developed by Ralf Biedert from the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, uses an eye tracker to monitor your progress across the page.

When your eye hits certain keywords actions are triggered - Latin text in Dracula, for example, is complemented by a brief translation, while antiquated words are bolstered with an explanation on the side of the page.

Technology like Text 2.0 makes the computer smarter and more empathic. It's a way of giving authors, or maybe a new type of artist, additional tools to create an entirely new type of book

Also useful is the ability for the text to remember where you left off reading when you glance away, and highlight the spot with a red arrow when your gaze lands back on the page again.

Similarly, the software can detect when you're skim reading and blank out all but the key phrases - an unusual, but surprisingly useful feature during our hands on.

However, Biedert has grander ambitions for his project than simple textual aids. "People talk about the end of the mouse and the keyboard, but that's not necessary, they're perfect at what they do," he said.

"Technology like Text 2.0 makes the computer smarter and more empathic. It's a way of giving authors, or maybe a new type of artist, additional tools to create an entirely new type of book."

Hollywood book

Biedert calls this the Hollywood Book and gave us a demonstration using Dracula. When our eye scanned across the phrase "howling wolves" the sound sprung to life in the background, and when we read midnight the page darkened.

Though crude examples, Biedert imagined the text being applied to magazines and newspapers, allowing biographies and videos to be activated when you read over a person's name, or a description of an event.

While the technology was impressive, our brief hands on revealed it still needs work. Reading too quickly caused the software to miss its cues, and the reflection from glasses can too easily throw the eye tracker off - though Biedert claimed this was a flaw in the 27,000 euro eye tracker that the software is dependent on.

Still, he's optimistic about the project and claimed that as the software gets smarter and the hardware smaller it could ultimately find its way into eBook readers, or devices such as Apple's iPad, paving the way for an entirely new type of reading experience.

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User comments

Apple anyone?

Didn't Apple patent something lately, that let the computer know you had read some advert?
Seems like this is a marketing dream for allowing 'free' content to those who want to put up with adverts.

By Steve_Adey on 5 Mar 2010

an entirely new type of reading experience.

Or an entirely new type of reading distraction.

By greemble on 5 Mar 2010

27000 euro eye tracker

just thought I'd hight light that in case you missed whilst reading the text!

By SimonCorlett on 5 Mar 2010

How do you know?

How do you know I skipped over the 27,000 euro part?
Have you got one of these?

By Steve_Adey on 5 Mar 2010

Distracting

"Also useful is the ability for the text to remember where you left off reading when you glance away"

This will come in handy when things keep popping up in the margins while you're trying to read.

By halsteadk on 7 Mar 2010

Adverts

On many online forums, there are underlined words and if you inadvertently move your mouse over them, up pops an annoying advert so I try and make sure I never move the mouse near them.

However if you are reading some article you can just imagine adverts popping up continuously with no way to avoid them.
Aargh!!!

By scollie on 11 Mar 2010

Text 2.0 Attention Span

The eye movement controlled Text 2.0 system assumes that the reader's attention is always where they are looking - research has shown that this is not always the case. You can look at text without reading it. Reading stimulates thought processes which divert attention elsewhere. Also, how would this system work for Dyslexic readers?

By LMuir on 22 Nov 2010

great post

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By lisajutek on 3 Jan 2011

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