EReaders design ui industrial-design ideas

eReaders need eye-readers

Watching someone using the new touchscreen Kindle the other day made me think about the eBook interface, and about how clunky it still is.

I've used eBook readers on a lot of platforms over the years, and nothing has ever been completely right. Don't get me wrong - I like eBooks and the ability to carry a library around in your pocket is great, but the interfaces have always been a bit flawed, especially in terms of page turning.

One app I used to use featured auto scrolling, which sounded like a possible solution: select a reading speed and the app will scroll the text to keep up as you read. But that doesn't take into account a non-linear reading style. I often re-read previous sentences or revisit previous paragraphs as I scan over the page, and there is nothing more annoying than having to read with an app hurrying you along.

Then it occurred to me: eye tracking. Imagine reading perfectly naturally, and at the end of the page, just looking at the last word is enough to trigger a page turn. No matter how large or small the text, or what pace you read at. Use a webcam above the screen to track your eye movements and away you go. Admittedly the accuracy would have to be pretty high to avoid false positives, and the processing power of the existing eReaders is probably not up to it, but one day soon it will surely come to pass. So unless there's already a patent lurking out there, I prefer my royalties to be paid in Yen. Thanks.