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Augmented Books Are On The Way According To Researchers

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Augmented reality (AR) technology adds a whole new dimension to paperback books.

Imagine this. You’re several chapters into a captivating novel when a character from an earlier book makes a surprise appearance. You swipe your finger across their name on the page at which point their entire backstory is displayed on a nearby smartphone, allowing you to refresh your memory before moving forward.

This may sound like science fiction, but researchers at the University of Surrey in England say that the technology described above is already here in the form of “a-books” (augmented reality books).

Credit: University of Surrey

The team experimented with a variety of iterations over the course of the six-year project. The most recent method involves infusing razor-thin solar pans between sheets of conventional paper. This allows researchers to inject various background information into a conventional paperback, similar to a modern ebook.

The potential use-cases for such a technology are virtually endless. As previously mentioned, a-books could be used to deliver character details and plot points for a variety of fictional works. The same technology could also be applied to textbooks, allowing students to display helpful information on their smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs with the swipe of a finger.

“The way we consume literature has changed over time with so many more options than just paper books. Multiple electronic solutions currently exist, including e-readers and smart devices, but no hybrid solution which is sustainable on a commercial scale,” said Dr. Radu Sporea, Senior Lecturer at the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI).

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Credit: Katherine Ingram / University of Surrey
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“Augmented books, or a-books, can be the future of many book genres, from travel and tourism to education. This technology exists to assist the reader in a deeper understanding of the written topic and get more through digital means without ruining the experience of reading a paper book.”  

No word yet on when you can expect to see this technology for sale at your local book store. That said, readers can check out one of the first a-books, the Climate Domesday Book, later this year in the UK and Australia.

Image Credit: University of Surrey

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