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The Bridging Book Crosses the Digital/Analog Divide (video)
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  • May 28, 2013
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bridging book 2 Researchers at Engage Labs have developed a new type of book that creates a new type of print/digital interaction that I have not seen before.

The Bridging Book combines a paper book and an iPad in such a way that turning the page of the paper book changes what is displayed on the iPad, only it doesn’t require any significant amount of hardware.

The current prototype is centered around a custom iPad app. This app uses the iPad’s magnetic compass to detect tiny magnets embedded in the edges of the paper book. A reader can simply turn the page and watch the the screen of the iPad change at the same time.

Here’s more from the project description:

In the current version, the printed illustrations on each page of the physical book are extended into the device screen, offering further interaction. The content can be explored both linearly by reading and thumbing the printed book and/or exploring the interaction on the digital device.

This is a neat trick on a technical level, but what good is it?

I can see that it’s a pleasantly distracting game for a kid, but other than solving the problem of having too much money I don’t see what the Bridging Book does that can’t be done equally well with just an app.

I’ve watched the video a couple times now, and this strikes me as being about as useful as the various attempts to integrate augmented reality into paper books. I’ve written about a number of such projects that were interesting on a technical level but in practical terms were either awkward or simply gimmicks.

This project really feels like more of the same. Don’t get me wrong; I like new tech. But I also have to agree with the reader who pointed out the flaw with this kind of idea, and that is that these kind of tricks will only work if you have the hardware as well as a paper book:

I guess i’m too old to appreciate a concept in which you now need a computer AND a book to read something.

I have to say that I agree with the sentiment.

P.S. If you want to see an example of an intelligent use of augmented reality in an app, check out this video.


Engage Labs

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