This week the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published three patent applications from Google that cover an interactive book, a storytelling device and interactive page turning. It's clear that Google is eyeing the children's book market of tomorrow with this invention in the hopes of being able to attract those looking for a next generation interactive book experience. While many children books of today include pop-up pages, the next generation pop-ups will be far more interactive by including video projection, lighting projection, audio enhancements and even hints of using voice input to enhance the interaction of specific parts of a book. While Google's first iteration of this interactive book may not include holographic projection, you could tell that at some point in time this is where this invention is headed. For now, Google notes that a premium version of their interactive book will include a pico projector so as to bring a story to life in a more dramatic manner whereas basic versions of the interactive book will not.
Google's Patent Background
Recently some books, such as children's books, include an audio component that enriches the experience of reading the book. For example, the audio component may include physical control buttons and a speaker attached to the side of the book. The book itself may include words, pictures, and written instructions that tell the user to push specific buttons on the audio component to cause audio to be played via the speaker. The audio component and the book are not truly integrated, however, because there is no information exchanged between the book and the audio component.
Google's Invention: Interactive Book & Storytelling Device
Google's invention relates to an interactive book and a storytelling device. 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.
The interactive book is configured to establish an electronic connection with the storytelling device. When the electronic connection is established, the book data is communicated from the interactive book to the storytelling device.
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.
Google's patent FIG. 1 noted below is an illustration of an example environment in which an interactive book and a storytelling device may be embodied; FIG. 5 illustrates an implementation example in which story enhancement effects are triggered by a page turn.
Google's patent FIG. 7 noted above illustrates an additional implementation example in which story enhancement effects are triggered by voice input; FIG. 2 noted below illustrates a more-detailed example of the interactive book.
Google's patent FIG. 3 noted below illustrates a more-detailed example of the storytelling device
Google notes that a video projector could be configured to receive video files and control signals from the storytelling device and to project video. In one or more implementations, the video projector is implemented as a small "pico" projector. "The video projector may be controlled to project the video onto specific areas of the interactive book so as to interact with areas of the book, such as pop-up elements. In FIG. 1, for example, the video projector could be controlled to project video of the owl into the tree pop-up element, instead of relying on the light sources to illuminate the owl." If you expand on that idea, think of the projector projecting video of Treebeard talking to Frodo in Lord of the Rings.
Google further notes that the video projector may also be controlled to project video to areas outside of the interactive book. For example, the video projector may be configured to project images or video, such as images or video of the moon and stars, onto the ceiling in a room in which the reader is reading the interactive book.
In a secondary yet related patent, Google presents patent FIG. 1 as noted below which is an illustration of an example environment in which interactive page turning may be implemented.
Google is quick to point out that "in some cases, the storytelling device may be implemented in different versions, such that a more-expensive, premium version may include video projector or display, whereas a less-expensive, basic version may not."
Environment #100 includes a physical book that includes physical pages, which may be implemented with a physical material such as paper, cardboard, or plastic, to name just a few. Each page of the book may include text or images like many standard physical books. The interactive book will also include sensors which may include page sensor(s) and motion sensor(s). These sensors may be integrated within the book, such as by being embedded within pages of the book or in the spine of the book.
In one or more implementations, the page sensor(s) is implemented as a flex sensor. Flex sensors are configured to change in resistance or voltage when they flex or bend.
Although Google keeps it low key by only mentioning it once, they do note that the computer system behind the interactive book could also be wearable device which could mean a VR headset.
Google filed their three patent applications back in January 2015. Considering that these are patent applications, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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