We have the paper books, then the e-books. Now, maybe it’s time to have both with what has become the e-book hybrid. The product is the result of the bitBook project with technology designed and developed by the Greek start-up AmphiLab. Unsurprisingly, AmphiLab is run by Manolis Kelaidis who is an aeronautical and mechanical engineer as well as an industrial designer by profession.
One of the obvious advantages, so to speak, with bitBook is that it looks like a real book. It even includes the smell of a real paper book. That said, none of the cables, plastic, or electronic components are visible to the naked eye. This way, users will have almost the same feeling of reading a real book, with all the electronics hidden underneath.
All the reader will see are links printed on the pages using conductive ink. These, in turn, are connected to other suitable devices nearby such as a display or screen using a low profile wireless electronic module. Such a setup also means that the humble paper books are now part of the Internet of Things ecosystem that is supposed to invade our homes and offices in the future. It also makes it extremely simple and intuitive, with those less tech savvy also finding it easy to read and “operate” the new hybrid analog and digital books.
What’s also interesting is that there is still room for further development of the bitBook compared to what it is in its current form. Because the whole can be made autonomous so that it can operate entirely independently, without the need for a screen or an external speaker. For this, it can be equipped with memory chips to include all digital data while also having a built-in speaker or its own screen. In this way, the bitBook can be both a real book and an e-reader.
Such bitbooks are considered to be very useful as a music book or as an educational children’s book as well as for entertainment. In fact, the possibilities can be endless, as these hybrid books can also be a great learning tool for people with disabilities such as dyslexia or the autism spectrum.
Now, to get the big picture, bitBook just happens to be the result of a competition run by PAPER IN COURSE, which in turn is the European research and innovation project promoted by the European Union. INNPAPER called for new ideas and technologies to build on printed paper. For this, the project plans to work on cellulose nanofibers that are used in the manufacture of paper. This allows the development of custom paper to be incorporated into electronic bits such as circuits, antennas, batteries, and even a display.
However, besides hybrid books such as the BitBook, the technology can also be applied in several other industries. To date, three use cases have been identified, including smart labels for the packaging industry. Then there are the bedside diagnostic tests for use in the medical industry as well as the drug and caffeine detectors that the security and food industries can use.
As for the choice of paper and ink over conventional electronics, it is actually a conscious decision to help promote the use of environmentally friendly renewable materials over others. plastic or electronic components that have contributed to electronic waste over the years. INNPAPER hopes to tackle the rampant e-waste problem that is currently plaguing the global environment with more sustainable products such as paper.
That said, no matter how exciting this all might sound right now, it’s unclear exactly when the first hybrid books are likely to reach consumers. Or if the technology is mature enough to allow mass production in the first place.
With a keen interest in technology, I make a point of keeping up to date with the latest developments in the world of tech and gadgets. This includes smartphones or tablets, but even extends to AI and self-driving cars, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like to watch videos, read, listen to music or experiment with different recipes. Cinema is another aspect that interests me a lot and maybe I will make a film in the future.