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Filing reveals Apple's unique dual-screen e-ink reader concept

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Apple has shown interest in creating a unique new motion-controlled portable device with dual e-ink displays designed specifically for reading and interacting with digital content.

The concept was made public in a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week, discovered by AppleInsider. The proposed invention, titled "Motion Controllable Dual Display Portable Media Device," would have at least two displays arranged on a single device so that the user can only view one of them at a time.

Instead of presenting two pages in a book-like form, like Microsoft's concept for the "Courier" device which never became a reality, Apple's idea is for only one display to be presented to the user at a time. In diagrams that accompany the application, a tablet-style device features one e-ink display on each side.

The hypothetical hardware would include motion-sensing capabilities that would measure when a user flipped the device, and what direction it was turned in. Parsing this information, the hardware would, in the simplest example, turn the page of an e-book.

But beyond flipping pages, the direction and manner in which the user flips over the e-ink device would change what is shown on the secondary display. In one example, rotating the book "end over end" would present the book's table of contents, while going in the reverse direction could present users with a place to enter notes.

These movements would also be context sensitive. In one example provided by Apple, a user selects a word on the page, and then flips in a specific direction to get a dictionary definition of that word.

In another example, a user reading a magazine on Apple's proposed e-ink hardware would be able to flip the device to quickly view related articles.



Allowing users to flip the device on both an X and Y axis, the portable e-ink reader could also allow for content to be read in two different directions. For example, flipping left to right could pull up individual articles in a magazine, while flipping top to bottom could load the next page of that particular article.

The application praises the benefits of e-ink displays, particularly the low power consumption due to their ability to hold text and images indefinitely without drawing electricity. But it also notes that e-ink technology has a very low refresh rate when compared to LCD, which can "severely and adversely impact" the user's reading experience.

"For example, once the user has finished reading a page of a document, the page must be refreshed in order to present another page of the document," the application reads. "The need to refresh in order to view a new page can be frustrating as it requires the reader to stop and wait for the new page to come into view."



Apple's unique "flip" user interface would allow for the device to anticipate what the user might view next. By having the next page of a book already loaded on the reverse screen, the content could be instantly available.

The proposed invention is credited to Benjamin A. Rottler and Michael Ingrassia Jr. It was originally filed with the USPTO in January of 2010.
post #2 of 26
This sounds like it will be one of Apple's many innovative ideas that never actually get made into a shipping product.

Please update the AppleInsider app to function in landscape mode.

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Please update the AppleInsider app to function in landscape mode.

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post #3 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post

This sounds like it will be one of Apple's many innovative ideas that never actually get made into a shipping product.

That's hilarious. Turning the whole tablet over to interact with it? If this ever sees the light of day I'll start using Winfows 95.
post #4 of 26
I hope someday that Apple will realize that sometimes buttons are just the right way to do things.
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by djdj View Post

I hope someday that Apple will realize that sometimes buttons are just the right way to do things.

Such as?
post #6 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Such as?

Corsets?
Buggy whip latches?
post #7 of 26
Actually, my first impression was also 'how silly'.
But after thinking about it, I don't think this would be half bad for a Nook-sized device. Flipping it over would be very easy, and compared to punching tiny, crappy buttons, it might not be a bad experience. Maybe even kinda fun.

In any event, compare this to the Tom Cruise arm gesticulations from Minority Report, and this seems downright elegant.
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Corsets?

I think they use hooks and eyes.
post #9 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

In any event, compare this to the Tom Cruise arm gesticulations from Minority Report, and this seems downright elegant.

Seems kinda like you'd end up dropping it a lot - also it has the 'both sides buttered' problem of the iPhone-4. It's guaranteed to land on screen.

I do think it would be interesting if Apple decided to go after the kindle on its own territory, but they'll need a MUCH better eBookstore before that's an option.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Seems kinda like you'd end up dropping it a lot - also it has the 'both sides buttered' problem of the iPhone-4. It's guaranteed to land on screen.

I do think it would be interesting if Apple decided to go after the kindle on its own territory, but they'll need a MUCH better eBookstore before that's an option.

To this day, I don't see why Amazon and Apple can't team up on this more effectively.
The only reason Apple offers books is to sell devices. The only reason Amazon offers devices is to sell books.
Amazon will never be the hardware expert that Apple is.
Seems like the best device with the best content would be a win for everyone (even if the device was a smaller, lighter, focused-on-reading iPad.)
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

...... I do think it would be interesting if Apple decided to go after the kindle on its own territory, but they'll need a MUCH better eBookstore before that's an option.

The iPad is already outselling kindle by a wide margin, if you can judge by all sources reporting, considering that Amazon is still too ashamed of it's performance to "reveal" it's numbers ...... so what's to go after ? book sales ? Not according to this.

http://blogs.computerworld.com/iphon..._apple_sdk_app
See, in the record business, you can show someone your song, and they don’t copy it. In the tech business, you show somebody your idea, and they steal it. (Jimmy Iovine)
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See, in the record business, you can show someone your song, and they don’t copy it. In the tech business, you show somebody your idea, and they steal it. (Jimmy Iovine)
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post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

To this day, I don't see why Amazon and Apple can't team up on this more effectively.
The only reason Apple offers books is to sell devices. The only reason Amazon offers devices is to sell books.
Amazon will never be the hardware expert that Apple is.
Seems like the best device with the best content would be a win for everyone (even if the device was a smaller, lighter, focused-on-reading iPad.)

That makes sense to me also. That's why I have Amazon kindle on my iPad.
post #13 of 26
This seems incredibly cumbersome compared to swiping or even pushing a button. Not to mention the added cost of a second screen. e-ink on one side and ios on the other would be great though.
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

To this day, I don't see why Amazon and Apple can't team up on this more effectively.
The only reason Apple offers books is to sell devices. The only reason Amazon offers devices is to sell books.
Amazon will never be the hardware expert that Apple is.
Seems like the best device with the best content would be a win for everyone (even if the device was a smaller, lighter, focused-on-reading iPad.)

Agreed. But first I think that they need to come up with a hybrid display. The only thing keeping me from reading on an iPad (other than the fact that I don't own one yet) is the fact that an e-ink display is way better than a lcd for reading. The only thing that keeps me from wanting to use my kindle for anything other than reading is the fact that e-ink is useless for every other application. As far as a dedicated e-reader goes, I don't really see how apple can really improve on the kindle, and the kindle has one big advantage that I don't think apple will ever manage: free global 3G coverage.

As for the patent, the only real advantage is the fact that the device can queue up the next page, but with the refresh time on newer e-ink displays being so insignificant, it's hard to see the advantages outweighing the disadvantages.
post #15 of 26
Samsung has a tech called liquivista that has 30fps refresh e ink. it can also slow down it's fps to just 1fps. It dynamically adjusts to the contents of the screen , drastically saving power consumption. It is also directly visible under the sun light. It is also color.

Perhaps Apple should suck it's pride and license this tech from Samsung?

Because Apple doesn't have any patents regarding display tech, they are using form factor as a way around it. Sneaky.

"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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"Like I said before, share price will dip into the $400."  - 11/21/12 by Galbi

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post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's idea is for only one display to be presented to the user at a time. In diagrams that accompany the application, a tablet-style device features one e-ink display on each side.

The hypothetical hardware would include motion-sensing capabilities that would measure when a user flipped the device, and what direction it was turned in. Parsing this information, the hardware would, in the simplest example, turn the page of an e-book.

But beyond flipping pages, the direction and manner in which the user flips over the e-ink device would change what is shown on the secondary display. In one example, rotating the book "end over end" would present the book's table of contents, while going in the reverse direction could present users with a place to enter notes.

Sounds like nothing more than a protective patent to me - the whole idea sounds ungainly and cumbersome, not Apple-like at all.
post #17 of 26
Whoa, whoa, now wait a minute.

That's clearly me in that second drawing. Can they use a likeness of me without my permission? I'm suing.
post #18 of 26
While Apple's proposed method of control may be unique, dual screen readers are nothing new of course. There's been others, with Amazon being the most recent to get rumors of a dual screen Kindle by the end of the year.

http://www.zatznotfunny.com/2011-07/...-dual-screens/

http://dvice.com/archives/2010/09/two-page-e-read.php
melior diabolus quem scies
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melior diabolus quem scies
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post #19 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

Whoa, whoa, now wait a minute.

That's clearly me in that second drawing. Can they use a likeness of me without my permission? I'm suing.

Use your reward money to buy food. You look affright.
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Samsung has a tech called liquivista that has 30fps refresh e ink. it can also slow down it's fps to just 1fps. It dynamically adjusts to the contents of the screen , drastically saving power consumption. It is also directly visible under the sun light. It is also color.

Perhaps Apple should suck it's pride and license this tech from Samsung?

Because Apple doesn't have any patents regarding display tech, they are using form factor as a way around it. Sneaky.

...Wow.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

To this day, I don't see why Amazon and Apple can't team up on this more effectively.
The only reason Apple offers books is to sell devices. The only reason Amazon offers devices is to sell books.
Amazon will never be the hardware expert that Apple is.
Seems like the best device with the best content would be a win for everyone (even if the device was a smaller, lighter, focused-on-reading iPad.)

Look at it from both of their perspectives. Apple has seen that by having the biggest digital music store it was able to secure its PMP market share in the face of huge competition. By becoming a retailer Apple has deepened its relationship with consumers.

On the other hand Amazon sees the rise of new platforms with digital distribution and realises that it is no longer the disruptive force in retail, it's now the incumbent. It risks being further marginalised in music & video, and it risks being shut out of software entirely.

In the end i would say that Apple has demonstrated more skill at running Retail operations than Amazon has demonstrated at designing hardware - so I think Amazon will find it extremely hard to break out of the eBook niche. On the other hand Apple has failed to offer a compellingly better alternative to Kindle, so I think they'll be unable to dislodge Amazon from books.
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post

Samsung has a tech called liquivista that has 30fps refresh e ink. it can also slow down it's fps to just 1fps. It dynamically adjusts to the contents of the screen , drastically saving power consumption. It is also directly visible under the sun light. It is also color.

Perhaps Apple should suck it's pride and license this tech from Samsung?

Because Apple doesn't have any patents regarding display tech, they are using form factor as a way around it. Sneaky.

You realise if Apple wants eInk displays from Samsung they will just buy them right? No need to license the tech. Apple is very happy for Samsung to keep making shiny components that it can use, so long as it loses its foolish notion of competing as a manufacturer of consumer products

Apple doesn't need patents on display tech, because Apple doesn't make display panels
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

To this day, I don't see why Amazon and Apple can't team up on this more effectively.
The only reason Apple offers books is to sell devices. The only reason Amazon offers devices is to sell books.
Amazon will never be the hardware expert that Apple is.
Seems like the best device with the best content would be a win for everyone (even if the device was a smaller, lighter, focused-on-reading iPad.)

Actually both companies need to sell both books and devices because that's the only way to have control over both the devices and the contents. That's because profit comes after control, there's no (economic) profit without some sort of monopoly so both companies are trying hard to get to that.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by drobforever View Post

Actually both companies need to sell both books and devices because that's the only way to have control over both the devices and the contents. That's because profit comes after control, there's no (economic) profit without some sort of monopoly so both companies are trying hard to get to that.

I think if Amazon wanted to control both device and content, they wouldn't have created Kindle programs for multiple portable platforms.
post #25 of 26
I think it's possible a dual e-ink display isn't Apple's true intention with this patent. I think they may be hiding a possible feature for new iPads.

Imagine an iPad smart cover with a flexible e-Ink display on the inside. Open the cover, Launch iBooks, flip the device over and the LCD powers down and shifts output to the e-ink display. The iPads motion and touch controls remain active, so you can flip pages by bumping the device right or left, or by swiping your fingers on the back (LCD touchscreen) of the iPad. It's now a touchscreen kindle.

Open the device like a book and the e-ink display becomes a secondary display, So you can do things like see an email conversation on the e-ink display, while writing a response on the LCD touchscreen.

The e-ink smart cover gets power and data from a magsafe style connector in the middle of one side of the iPad. This can be easily disconnected, so If you want, you can rip the cover off. flip it over and reattach it (so the e-ink display is on the outside while closed.) Now the iPad detects the cover is on, but the e-ink display is facing outward, so it displays iOS 5's notification center on the e-ink display. Since e-ink displays only consume power when refreshing, you can now always see your alerts without opening the device and powering on the LCD.
post #26 of 26
I think it's a fine idea. Appeals to my sense of space. Like a portal gun.

It'd have to be really light, durable, and cheap, though. Something you can toss around. Something for students.
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