Bringing Books To Life
There is a fundamental shift in the nature of books being announced by the University of Ulster, according to the “Futurist” magazine.
In the July-August issue it says, “No more waiting for the movie version of your favorite book. New multimedia technology, combined with language processing, will allow books to be translated automatically into 3-D animated images. Software developed at the University of Ulster understands natural English-language input and maps it into 3-D multimedia presentations. The potential applications range from bringing a children’s story to life to creating interactive city maps. Filmmakers could also use the technology to produce vivid animated storyboards from screenplays so that directors may experiment with different angles before live actors are brought to the set.”
For more information, see the website: www.ulst.ac.uk .
This announcement marks the first fundamental change in the functionality of a book in over five hundred years. Books have always been the vessel for ideas and entertainment that drives the imagination of the reader. E-books provide a different type of delivery system for the content (an electronic reader versus a paper book) but are still only words that were seen and interpreted by the reader’s imagination. This new software creates 3-D images for the reader, taking imagination out of the equation.
What problem is this solution attempting to solve? Yes, it is a cool technology—both astounding and amazing. Will it reach mainstream readers, however, or be relegated to filmmakers and story boarders?
Does this device solve the illiteracy problem? People younger than 30 years old are reading less. Other media (TV, movies, the Internet, iPod, Xbox, etc) consume more time for youngsters than reading. Experts say that children favor images to words. Illiteracy is on the rise in this age group.
There remains a basic flaw in the adaptation of the software by users—both young and old. The software requires an intermediary computer to render the images—today a PC, tomorrow possibly a hand-held device. Will readers want an intermediary between them and the words? Traditional readers will not. They are fewer and fewer in number, however. Will younger readers want an intermediary? Probably not. There are too many other choices of electronic devices to capture their attention for entertainment.
Furthermore, the software lacks interactivity and variability. The 3-D software interprets the written words as they were written. It is linear. This cannot compete with the interactivity of video games with their multiple scenarios and interactivity for younger users.
It is not clear what problem this new software development solves. It is clear, however, that anyone interested in the printing, distribution, marketing or reading of books should keep an eye on this technology to see where it leads.
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