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

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,479member
    This sounds like it will be one of Apple's many innovative ideas that never actually get made into a shipping product.
  • Reply 2 of 25
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,550member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    djdjdjdj Posts: 74member
    I hope someday that Apple will realize that sometimes buttons are just the right way to do things.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,250member
    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?
  • Reply 5 of 25
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Such as?



    Corsets?

    Buggy whip latches?
  • Reply 6 of 25
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 25
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by GQB View Post


    Corsets?



    I think they use hooks and eyes.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    gqbgqb Posts: 1,934member
    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.)
  • Reply 10 of 25
    newbeenewbee Posts: 2,055member
    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
  • Reply 11 of 25
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,770member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    gwlaw99gwlaw99 Posts: 134member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    iaeeniaeen Posts: 588member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    galbigalbi Posts: 968member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,735member
    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
  • Reply 18 of 25
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,250member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    iaeeniaeen Posts: 588member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    cloudgazercloudgazer Posts: 2,161member
    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.
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