HP Labs researchers have designed and built an experimental e-book, or Digital Media Viewer, to investigate how people will look at electronic information in the future, from newspapers to photographs and even motion pictures.
Today’s technology lets us look at digital information using
computer monitors, laptops and small hand-held devices such as
HP’s iPAQ. But as the things we look at become richer, with
denser levels of information, our viewing devices will also need
to adapt and change. HP Labs researchers want to find out what
these changes might be.
The Digital Media Viewer is a research prototype of one of these
future devices. It is light, powerful and includes page-turning
software, technology that was also created in HP Labs Bristol.
page-turning software allows users to flick through an electronic
publication -- using built-in touch-pads -- just as you can flick
through the pages of a real book or magazine. User studies in
HP Labs have shown that people found the page-turning software
was a particularly good way of navigating through an electronic
In the future, the researchers believe, people will be able to
download electronic books from the Internet and also receive newspapers
that have been specifically designed for such devices. Further
on, there may also be multimedia versions of motion pictures created
for media viewers, with links and interactive sections.
The devices themselves will also have to develop in order to
handle all of this rich media. Display technology is a case in
point. In today’s laptops the display uses a lot of power, is expensive to make and is very fragile.
To investigate ways to counter these drawbacks, HP Labs Bristol
has a research program in plastic, paper-like displays. As well
as being durable, these lightweight displays would hold an image
without being powered. Result: longer battery life and a lighter
Although the Digital Media Viewer is a research project -- there
are no plans for it to become an HP product -- the researchers
believe that their work will help to reveal the kind of devices
that people will want to use in the coming decade.
The next step for the researchers is to conduct user trials.
They are building 30 Digital Media Viewers that will be used for
public evaluation. The feedback from the user trials will help
to guide the way the project develops.