Google developing books with special effects, patent applications suggest

One can only shudder at what might pop up with “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

But Google appears to be developing technology that would add special-effects imagery and sound to the reading experience. The company has filed for patents for an “interactive book” and associated “storytelling device” that would provide “story enhancement effects,” according to the patent applications.

Application materials indicated the book would have physical pages with physical pop-ups, along with sensors on pages, memory, a microphone and a speaker.

As might be expected, Google did not address the “Fifty Shades” eventuality in its patent applications. Instead, we learned that in the reading experience of the future, book lovers may find everyone’s favorite nocturnal bird calling from the page. Google describes a reader touching a sensor on a page, which triggers illumination of a pop-up tree with an owl in it. “The light sources are controlled to illuminate an exact area of the tree at which the owl is located, and the speakers are controlled to make the ‘hooo, hooo’ sound at the exact time the owl is illuminated,” according to the application.

Here’s how the new tech-boosted book would work:

“The interactive book includes sensors, electronic output components, such as light sources and speakers, and a memory that maintains book data. The sensors and the electronic output components are integrated into the book itself, such as within physical pages of the interactive book,” according to one of the applications. “The storytelling device also includes electronic output components, such as light sources, speakers, a video projector, or a display.

“The storytelling device receives sensor data from the sensors of the interactive book. Then, based on the sensor data and the book data, the storytelling device controls the electronic output components, at the interactive book and/or at the storytelling device, to provide story enhancement effects that are correlated to the interactive book.”

Voice prompts could also trigger special effects, the application said.

Google filed the patent applications in January 2014; the U.S. patent office published the applications last week on March 3.

No word, of course, on whether hoot-owl sound effects could be re-purposed for “Fifty Shades.”

Image: A drawing provided with Google’s application for a “storytelling device” patent (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)

 

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