Most people would rather curl up with a hard bound paper book, than read an online version on their screen. Even if the online version was free.

Yet there are so many forms of media online, like embedded short sound clips or video clips, that are an integral part of an online reading experience.

Consider:

– an encyclopedia of birds, with embedded audio of bird sounds for each bird.
– a pregnancy care or baby care book, with video demos of how to handle each stage of development
– a yoga book with video demos
– manuals of any product with demo of each feature
– medical books with video demo of delicate instructions like surgery

So naturally there’s tremendous potential for a new product – a multimedia book, that has some links in it to access the embedded content.

Its possible with current technology:

An add on audio-visual device that has the multimedia content, and a bar code scanner. The ‘link’ in the book could just be a bar code image, that during reading, one could just swipe the barcode with the device and it instantly plays the audio or video content.

There’s already a scanner available with audio-visual device like a mobile phone (Nokia E71 for example). Here’s a demo, a pretty bad one (idenifying the bar code is a lot easier and faster than shown in this video, probably bcos the guy was distracted in making the video 😉 ) but for the time being…

In my E71 it works like a charm. All it does is show me the hyper link the image is associated with, and I can either close the box or click on it to visit it. But a good enough start!

Some more examples…

Unlike what the probavly outdated video says, its not any future technology.

Have a look at Nokia Mobilecodes that talks about it in more detail, and where you can even create your own bar code images.

So all we really need is a J2ME/mobile application that
– activates the bar code reader software
– reads the resultant hyperlink (actually bar codes can be custom-made, any url can be encoded into a custom unique bar code image)
– connects to the link and plays the media.

Of course, related content needs to be on the site.

Considering that with greater than 2 GB memory cards being so common, we can store the content on the card, and then simply map to it and get it offline without any need for internet connectivity.

And if you consider context-specific content – for example all content relative to only a single book on birds. For example if we just need to think about say 100 sounds made by birds in an encyclopedia, even just numbers would do, rather than globally unique bar code images. This would make complexity of image reading (if bar code creating/reading software is to be implemented) a lot simpler.

E71 costs approx 20K. There might be cheaper alternatives if hardware is built from scratch?

What’s needed:
– miniature camera – even a low res one would do that just takes b&w images
– a display screen & a speaker
– storage card & reader
– some kind of chip that runs the software that does the mapping and playing job

Hmm… there are cell phones costing less than 3K that have a lot of these features – and consider that we don’t even need any reception/transmission… and possibility of mass production might reduce the cost still further…