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Kurzweil Takes On Kindle With "Blio" E-Reader

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the free-as-in-what-exactly dept.

Books 168

kkleiner writes "Ray Kurzweil, prolific inventor and Singularity enthusiast, is planning to debut Blio at CES 2010. Blio is an e-reader platform, not hardware, that can be used on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch. Developed by Kurzweil company knfb Reading, Blio preserves the original format of books including typography, and illustrations, in full color. It also takes advantage of knfb’s high quality text to speech capabilities and supports animation and video content."

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Is this new? (2, Interesting)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655216)

There are already many other software based ereaders that exist, this one is just a bit more featured. Or am I being cynical again?

Re:Is this new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655286)

There are already many other software based ereaders that exist, this one is just a bit more featured. Or am I being cynical again?

No. It's called having lived through the dot.bomb times and all the over-hype regarding "new and innovative" products and "technologies".

Every few years, the figurative wheel is reinvented with a slight twist an is called a new technology, paradigm, etc, etc, etc. You wait, your grandchildren will come to you and say, "Grandpa, there's this new programming language that all you have to do is write once and it runs everywhere! I invested my life savings into it!"

Re:Is this new? (1)

ccarson (562931) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655528)

Maybe the only difference is the guy behind this "invention". Ray Kurzweil is an amazing predictor of the future. He has a vivid imagination whose ideas on the future will, I suspect, come true eventually. Other than that, his reader sounds kinda cute. Not really worthy of anything special other than the spotlight that exists on this guy based on his past rants.

Re:Is this new? (1)

rgravina (520410) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655648)

"Grandpa, there's this new programming language that all you have to do is write once and it runs everywhere! I invested my life savings into it!"

I pictured Duke[1] in some futuristic space getup when I read this.

"Live long, and com.sun.java.salutations.IProsper" (using an interface, you can prosper in any way you see fit!).

[1] The mascot, not the game character.

Re:Is this new? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655746)

It's called having lived through the dot.bomb times and all the over-hype regarding "new and innovative" products and "technologies".

There is also the issue of freedom (as in libre, not beer). Maybe I'm being more than usually unobservant this evening, but I have failed to pick up any reference to this software being OSS or available on other platforms (Linux, *BSD...). The Blio website appears to be just a placeholder. If the idea is just vapourware, it would be helpful if they just came out and admitted it.

Not new (3, Funny)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655372)

Miss Blio wants to give you your future. Call me now for a free reading!

Re:Is this new? (2, Informative)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655380)

You mean like the free Acrobat Reader? No wait, that supports only PDFs. Really the main advantage of this e-reader is that unlike Kindle, it uses a full sized monitor AND your computer, is NOT portable, and since it's plugged into your wall, will last as long as the power's on in your house, as opposed to that dreadful Kindle that lasts upwards of 10-15 days battery life (when wifi's turned off). So there!

Re:Is this new? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655708)

Note that Calibre seems to work just fine if you're insane enough to want an e-reader on your comp.

Re:Is this new? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656264)

It's terrible. For all the format lock-in and 'do it our way' built into it, Microsoft Reader pretty much blows everything else I have tried out of the water (for reading on a PC).

The, as I call it 'do it our way' is probably responsible for most of what I like about it, of course, it is also probably responsible for most of what I don't like.

Re:Is this new? (2, Informative)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656486)

You mean like the free Acrobat Reader? No wait, that supports only PDFs. Really the main advantage of this e-reader is that unlike Kindle, it uses a full sized monitor AND your computer [...]

TFA tries very hard to highlight the main advantage of Blio over Kindle. If you look at the very first screenshot in the article, it's a color illustration of a human skull from an anatomy textbook. This is an appplication that Kindle can't handle: illustrated textbooks. Kindle is black and white, has a page that's relatively small, doesn't usually (ever?) include illustrations, and doesn't have proper formatting for math.

I think the main advantage of Blio over PDF is this: "Like all e-readers, Blio will adopt some form of DRM and proprietary formatting [...]" Well, that's only an advantage in the publisher's eyes, but they do seem to see it as crucial.

I can also imagine certain categories of books where Blio could do something useful for the reader that can't be done as well by PDF. Consider a public-domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. You can get it here [bartleby.com] in html format. Now suppose you want to read it on the bus, without carrying a full-size laptop computer with you. If the Blio software is done well, it might adapt itself better to an e-book reader than html or pdf.

TFA says, "Kurzweil and knfb are working with Google to try to make their extensive catalog of printed materials available for Blio." Google is not in the same market as kindle. Amazon sells a relatively small number of recent, profitable books, each of which has to be formatted for the kindle. Google has a gigantic archive of old, public-domain books, none of which is a profitable item in and of itself, but which, aggregated, make something that google might be able to profit from. There is no way that google is going to bring out special e-book editions of all those books.

Re:Is this new? (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655704)

I don't really see that it has that many advantages over PDF. Translation? Do you really want to listen to/read a machine translated book?

Sounds like a browser to me (1)

marcus (1916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655796)

Firefox renders html ebooks just fine. It even does color, various fonts and sizes, a variety of pic formats, video, and even supports bookmarks too!

Computer versus Kindle (3, Interesting)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655232)

My Brother-in-Law has a Kindle. The main reason he uses it is it's a lot easier to read text on the Kindle's LCD than on a computer LCD as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle. The screen refreshes only when you turn a page, which makes it easier on the eyes than a 60Hz computer LCD display.

Also, Blio on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch, but no Linux? WTF?

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Drethon (1445051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655270)

Agreed, I can read the Kindle as easily as a real book but LCD displays bother me after a while if I'm just reading even though I work with them daily.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (2, Informative)

itsme1234 (199680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655384)

You're thinking CRT, LCDs are in this respect very similar to e-ink, they change only when you need them to change (i.e. there's no refresh while showing static images). There is a flicker if the backlight is fluorescent (as opposed to the new LED backlight present in many new notebooks and netbooks) but you get the same flicker if you look at anything (event a book) under fluorescent light (which most people tolerate quite well).

Re:Computer versus Kindle (2, Informative)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655898)

E-Ink is still a helluva lot easier on the eyes than an LCD

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657252)

Not nearly as much so as compared to CRT. The only issue with an LED-backlit LCD is eye fatigue from the brightness. This is why God (my pet name for whichever programmer actually first thought of this) came up with a color inversion setting in X-server (and I'm sure Mac and even Windows can do it too.) Voila, black background with glowing text. Still not quite as easy as e-ink, but close.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656634)

Most TFT LCDs in portable devices and computer monitors do need a continuous refresh. You're thinking of LCDs in calculators and crap, which don't. LCD refresh is normally around 60hz.

The bigger problem is the flourescent light in most LCDs though, because that certainly does cause eyestrain. Haven't you ever had to go through an office ergonomics whatchamajigger? They tell you to look at your monitor no more than 10 minutes at a time to reduce eye strain. Looking at an LCD for too long without breaks causes headaches. It's no bueno.

So much for reading a book, eh?

This Blio e-reader isn't taking on the Kindle, it's taking on Adobe Digital Editions. The Blio is targeting an entirely different market, namely people who have not yet known the joy of a good ebook reader, or for some reason don't like them.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655576)

as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle.

Oh, theres a refresh "rate" alright, its about two seconds aka about zero point five Hz. That's why I specifically purchased a LCD based ebook reader.

I got to try a sony eink product, it was so slow, the first time I tried to change pages I had enough time to think it had crashed, or perhaps it was a static demo page that can't change, and the next couple times I switched pages I thought it was about to crash, memory leak slowing it to a crawl or the battery was nearly dead or something. I intellectually knew the UI was horribly slow, but I hadn't internalized it as possibly being the slowest UI I'd ever used.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656306)

That refresh rate is why its really only used on ebook readers, where the primary action is turning a page, which takes a second or two on a paper book as well. As far as for the UI for selecting and downloading books, etc., I haven't used the Sony reader, but the Kindle 1 and the Nook both have a pretty decent workaround - using a smaller, faster display to do the active portions of the UI. On the nook, its that little LCD touchscreen on the bottom, while on the Kindle 1, there is a 2x40(ish) silver strip with large pixels that has a good response rate. While certainly not good for a general purpose tablet, I think these systems work extremely well for the e-book task, and the engineers have gone out of their way to mitigate the obvious limitations of the technology.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656452)

God, you must have the worst case of ADD in history. Do you turn pages in a book and have enough time to think maybe your arm is broken because it took so long? Because that's about how long it takes, a normal page turn.

Even the old ones (I have a prs-500) only take a half second to turn the page, unless you are doing something funky like custom fonts and stuff like that. If yours was taking longer than that then you were probably using an oddly formatted book, or perhaps a pdf and the particular model you were using wasn't so great at them. The new ones I know are faster, I've seen them. In any case I've read a half dozen books on mine and never thought it was outrageously slow. Slower than an LCD, yes, but it's not an LCD, and it looks a hundred times better for print than an LCD.

For heaven's sake it's made to replace a book, you're not supposed to be spending much time on the book selection page, or digging around in the options, you're supposed to be reading a friggin book!

Dumbass.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656820)

You can also adapt...the page turn time is usually consistent, so you can just learn to press the button when you are nearing the end of the page.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656538)

I don't know about the sony product, but the Kindle was adequate. Obviously, it's far too slow for internet browsing, but good enough for turning static pages.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656804)

You know, when you turn a page in a book, you get the same kind of thing. A fraction of a second when you're not looking at any particular page. The brain starts to overlook that and you don't even notice it.

And my Kindle redraws the screen faster than I can turn a page.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Kapsar (585863) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655586)

The Kindle's not really an LCD in the technical meaning. It doesn't have a back light which makes it much easier to read. There's no eye strain and it's very similar to reading a book.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656756)

It's not an LCD technically or figuratively, or any other way you could mean it. Liquid Chrystal Displays require Liquid Chrystals, e-ink has none. That makes a big difference because LCDs require light to pass through them to illuminate them, where e-ink interchanges dots of pigment, which reflect light - no backlight required.

That is what gives e-ink a contrast almost identical to the printed word, using nothing but reflected light.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655634)

My Brother-in-Law has a Kindle. The main reason he uses it is it's a lot easier to read text on the Kindle's LCD than on a computer LCD as there is no refresh rate on the Kindle. The screen refreshes only when you turn a page, which makes it easier on the eyes than a 60Hz computer LCD display.

Also, Blio on PC, Mac, iPhone and iPod touch, but no Linux? WTF?

I've been reading ebooks for years now...

Originally on a Handspring Visor [wikipedia.org] , then on a Palm m505 [wikipedia.org] , then on my desktop and laptop using various ereader programs, then on a Dell mini 9 [wikipedia.org] ... I've used LCDs and CRTs both.

I just recently picked up a nook and I have to say it is the easiest screen to read on so far. Much easier on the eyes.

I can read for hours and hours with no more eyestrain than if I was reading a paper book. The e-ink display is definitely superior to any CRT or LCD I've ever read for long periods of time. My only complaint is that there's no backlight or anything... It would have been nice if they'd embedded a little LED somewhere on the thing, so I could read in low-light conditions easier.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655788)

My only complaint is that there's no backlight or anything... It would have been nice if they'd embedded a little LED somewhere on the thing, so I could read in low-light conditions easier.

Due to the way e-ink works, you can't have a backlight. It can only be frontlit (or sidelit, which is a frontlight sitting one layer above the screen but below the glass/plastic substrate).

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656590)

...
I just recently picked up a nook and I have to say it is the easiest screen to read on so far. Much easier on the eyes.

I can read for hours and hours with no more eyestrain than if I was reading a paper book. The e-ink display is definitely superior to any CRT or LCD I've ever read for long periods of time. My only complaint is that there's no backlight or anything... It would have been nice if they'd embedded a little LED somewhere on the thing, so I could read in low-light conditions easier.

One of the reasons it's so easy on the eyes is specifically because it doesn't have a backlight. Our eyes get tired less if there's not much brightness differences in the environment.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657022)

One of the reasons it's so easy on the eyes is specifically because it doesn't have a backlight. Our eyes get tired less if there's not much brightness differences in the environment.

I understand this... But it is very hard to read in the dark. Which is why there are so many book lights [google.com] available out there.

I'm not suggesting that the entire display should be back-lit 24/7... But it would be nice if it had some kind of integrated book light so I didn't have to turn on a bedside lamp in order to read at night.

Re:Computer versus Kindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656940)

When Kindle first came out, I thought it would be useless since I had a netbook that I could load PDF's to. However, the Kindle display is much better than any LCD screen used on laptops and netbooks today. Try using a laptop or netbook outdoors and you will see what I mean, whereas the Kindle looks great when reading outdoors.

Great Idea shame it will fail though (4, Insightful)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655254)

Why fail?
  As is runs on a conventional PC the DRM will be hacks in hours if not days s othe publishers will pull their titles.
Then the patent tolls will fire up their pencils and sue this into oblivion. There are patents on reading a text already. I'm sure that every toll and their dogs will be out in force to get a bit of their action on this.

Sorry for being so negative but I feel sure that there are just too many vested interests to let this succeed.

Re:Great Idea shame it will fail though (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655390)

The Kindle DRM scheme has been broken for months. Publishers don't seem to care (much).

Re:Great Idea shame it will fail though (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656226)

This would only be pertinent if the vast majority of consumers would be even the least bit interested in knowing how to pirate ebooks. The breaking of the DVD encryption has neither stopped studios from releasing DVDs nor consumers from buying them. Music labels still release albums on iTunes even though it is trivial to get around the DRM on that system, etc.., etc... It's dangerous to make general predictions about the death of a given platform or tech based on piracy. The people that know how to perform the piracy and/or are remotely interested in learning how to do it make up an insignificantly small percentage of the people who will actually own and use that technology.

Re:Great Idea shame it will fail though (2, Informative)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656400)

Music labels still release albums on iTunes even though there is no longer any DRM on that system, etc.., etc...

FTFY

Re:Great Idea shame it will fail though (1)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657080)

>>There are patents on reading a text already.

This sounds so odd. A patent for reading text on a COMPUTER of all things.

Odd but surely true.

PDF reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655260)

So, the invented a PDF reader?

One standard (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655308)

There are 50 million e-book formats and standards. What appeals to me about Kindle or Nook is that it is backed by a huge retailer. I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future. I know they will have a huge library of titles in their format. I feel strongly that they stand a chance to become the dominant standard. Kindle is opening themselves up to other devices and resellers. My wife has been buying books via the Kindle app on her iPhone.

Would I prefer a nice open standard with no DRM? Certainly. Will retailers ever support that? No.

Re:One standard (4, Insightful)

cain (14472) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655468)

I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future.

Don't be too sure about that. In a supremely ironic move, Amazon recently deleted [nytimes.com] Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles even though the books had been legally purchased. It's as if Amazon walked into your house and took books from your shelves, leaving a few bucks in their place. Being backed by a huge retailer makes me less confident that I'll be able t read the ebooks I purchase in the future.

Re:One standard (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655512)

I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future.

Don't be too sure about that. In a supremely ironic move, Amazon recently deleted [nytimes.com] Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindles even though the books had been legally purchased. It's as if Amazon walked into your house and took books from your shelves, leaving a few bucks in their place. Being backed by a huge retailer makes me less confident that I'll be able t read the ebooks I purchase in the future.

Thanks to the public outcry, they then apologized, gave them back, and promised never to do so again.

Re:One standard (1)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655984)

And maybe the current owners of Amazon.com will keep that promise - maybe they won't ever do it again. But think ahead 10 years or, so by which time the company will probably have been bought by the Chinese. Do you really think the new owners will feel the same way, especially when their government says "Ban this list of books and delete all existing digital copies, or be executed"?

Re:One standard (2, Interesting)

MtHuurne (602934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656122)

They promised to never do it again, except in certain situations [arstechnica.com] . This includes "judicial orders", so this means that if a government outlaws a book, they can not only prohibit future sales, but also make existing copies disappear. It also means that a copyright conflict could still cause a book to be removed, but only after a judge orders it.

Re:One standard (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656974)

That's why I never ever recommend the Kindle. They have far too much control over your legitimately purchased books, and you can never move them as far as I know.

That's why I like ePub, which is gaining ground fast. And it is much easier for publishers to use Adobe's tools for ePub books than the Kindle, so a lot of them are publishing in ePub, and then converting to Kindle.

Yes it has DRM, but it treats e-books as books and is only really there to try to make an ebook about as hard to copy as a normal book. It has provisions built in for lending and sharing and such. It even lets libraries in on the act, it's great, the most sensible format I've come accross so far.

Plus Adobe has a free reader for your PC if you really want to read the books that way.

Re:One standard (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655638)

Amazon refunded the purchase, and they were forced to do so because they didn't have the right to legally sell it in the first place.

I've seen a few small sellers basically disappear. They shut off their DRM servers and you are left with nothing.

Again, I'd prefer an open standard with no DRM. But Kindle is probably the best we're going to get.

Re:One standard (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657064)

Again, I'd prefer an open standard with no DRM. But Kindle is probably the best we're going to get.

ePub, it's an open standard with optional DRM (it's up to the publisher), but even the DRM is sane and not all that restrictive. Sony uses it now exclusively, and B&N will sell it to you as an option (they have their own proprietary format similar to Kindle's as well). Plus there are a dozen more online retailers who sell ePub, and Project Gutenberg has converted everything to ePub.

I really hope it grows quickly enough to stomp out the Kindle's proprietary bull, but Amazon is a giant in this young business, so who knows.

Re:One standard (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655882)

Bear in mind that both of the titles you mentioned are freely available under the auspices of the Australian arm of Project Gutenberg. Not all countries insist on copyright under the same terms as the UK or US, and (for once) Australia is one of the good guys in this regard.

Re:One standard (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657262)

I wonder how that would work out in court. They would obviously sue in the US, since they'd have no case in Australia, and of course they wouldn't sue for a single book, but if you download a copy of a book in Australia yet actually recieve it in America, have you broken American copyright law?

Tricky tricky.

Re:One standard (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655486)

What appeals to me about Kindle or Nook is that it is backed by a huge retailer. I feel fairly confident that if I buy a book from them, I can access it in the future. I know they will have a huge library of titles in their format. I feel strongly that they stand a chance to become the dominant standard.

Sounds exactly like Circuit City's DIVX disks.... How'd that work out?

Re:One standard (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655662)

Divx was always a rental if I recall. You didn't have to worry about them sticking around, because you only had the rights to watch the disc once. Divx was designed to be a fairly disposable format.

Re:One standard (1)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655664)

Or Walmart's DRM encumbered mp3 files for which they switched off their verification servers.

If it's stuck with DRM, them you haven't bought anything - you've just paid to borrow it for a while, at their convenience...

Re:One standard (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656708)

Or Walmart's DRM encumbered mp3 files for which they switched off their verification servers.

Unless there has been an update since October of 2008, they changed their minds... [informationweek.com]

Re:One standard (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656992)

As someone else posted, they ended up keeing the DRM servers online.

If the retailer stays in business, and shuts the DRM servers down, they are legally required to refund your purchase, which means you got an extended rental for free.

Again, I prefer a DRM-free model. But I'm not all that worried about losing purchases via Amazon. They're one of the few companies in this country that just continue to grow, despite the recession.

Re:One standard (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655760)

It's BOOKS. The only format you ultimately need to support is ASCII. Perhaps you need to support something a little more fancy like PDF.

Whether or not a jerk like Ellison will buy into the format is entirely separate from how dominant Amazon is.

Really. The first question to ask is "what will it do with my ancient copy of the Gutenberg Project"? Then ask "what will it do with these corporate docs in RTF and PDF?". Then go from there? How will it handle the Baen electronic library?

Re:One standard (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656726)

Would I prefer a nice open standard with no DRM? Certainly. Will retailers ever support that? No.

Until Google gets into the eReader business of course....well, then we will at least get a pseudo-open standard...or something.

Um, that's great and all... (3, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655348)

...but the Kindle is a hardware platform. It's the hardware that makes it compelling, not the software. If you don't care about the hardware, and are only interested in the content, then all you're really looking for is an alternative to Amazon's e-book store - not an alternative to the Kindle.

In fact, hold

Re:Um, that's great and all... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656692)

In fact, hold

Nice, I see what you did there.

I scrolled through TFA (really) and discovered the magical chart where the Blio e-Book reader software (oh, sorry, it's a "platform") is compared to various e-Book reader solutions... but not Adobe Reader, which otherwise pretty much has all the features of Blio, and then a whole lot more. I imagine it's a major PITA to generate it well, but Reader files have long been able to have information about the flow of the document which permits intelligent reflow for small displays, and it goes more or less without saying that as a Postscript derivative it features fairly detailed information on document layout and typography.

PDF? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655370)

Congratulations, you've invented Portable Document Format.

Re:PDF? (1)

Neil Hodges (960909) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655434)

Yes, or even full Postscript.

UTTERLY PATHETIC (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655502)

Famous self promoting futurist has plunged deep into his well of creativity to give us a Kindle Clone.

Re:UTTERLY PATHETIC bloody bleeping blio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30655800)

Famous self promoting greedy futurist has plunged deep into his well of creativity to give us a Kindle Clone.

There, fixed that for you. Agreed. May I be the first to say blah. I wanted to write something really elaborate, but in the end I decided to just write something as creative as the blio itself.
 

Re:UTTERLY PATHETIC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656678)

What are you on about? He's not making a device, it's software you fool. Durrr.

Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (2, Insightful)

oscarwumpus (1637213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655556)

For a guy that is supposed to be a step ahead tech-wise, apparently he doesn't understand that people want a portable device that is easy to read. A laptop/ iPhone/ iPod is not an easy-to-read from device* so creating a reader for those devices doesn't really get rid of the initial problem of having to use those devices. Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously? Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"? *laptop...well, the problem is the back lighting and eye fatigue, not the screen size, necessarily.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (2, Informative)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655702)

Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously?

I do (iPod Touch). Initially mainly from Baen/Webscription.net, nowadays also a lot from Project Gutenberg. It's mainly a lot easier to carry around than library books. I basically stopped going to the public library since I started reading this way.

Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"?

Actually, it works surprisingly well for me (I'm 30). A colleague of mine, who's in his early fifties, can't read the text without scaling it to the point where you have so little text on a screen that it becomes useless though.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

oscarwumpus (1637213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656062)

I stand corrected, then. I tried reading books on a Palm device (and later my Samsung phone) a few years ago, but I found that more annoying than reading on my computer so I gave the idea the heave-ho: I really dislike reading with the back lighting, especially after working on a computer all day: it makes my eyes water and feel tired. As such the Kindle/Nook/etc are of great interest to me.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (2, Interesting)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655748)

Horses for courses, my friend. Complain all you like about the size of a smartphone or the screen quality of a laptop, but I'm not going to carry around a dedicated piece of hardware just to read books on. I already have a smartphone that does the job almost as well right here in my pocket, and that's good enough for me.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655850)

I do carry around a dedicated e-reader. It is far superior to any phone or netbook for ease and comfort of reading. So, while a smartphone might be good enough for you it definitely isn't for me or a lot of other people.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655952)

As I said, horses for courses, my friend. I am not disagreeing with you.

Your e-reader may well be far superior for readability. My smartphone is far superior for being in my pocket at all times. I don't carry a bag around with me all day, I have nowhere to put an e-reader, so having access to read books on my phone is 100% better for me than having no books to read at all.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656712)

Oh my, the times are changing too fast for me, it seems. I can easily carry in my bag at least one piece of hardware for reading text. In the form of analogue book.

And I've heard those e-book readers are actually smaller. And can hold much more than one volume.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657014)

And my phone is even smaller, and contains even more volumes! It's miraculous really.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655890)

Do you get the idea of software? It has nothing to do with the hardware. Kurzweil is thinking ahead, and not locking his books into a format that will be obsolete when full-sized tablets become economically viable. He's several steps ahead, designing software for a couple generations down the road.

Of course, incidentally it will work just fine on your current iMac or whatnot.

iPods are superb e-readers (2, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656444)

Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?

I do. All the time. And I own a hardware Kindle, too. But the Kindle app on the iPod Touch is *much* better (brighter, faster, lighter, better contrast, less eye movement, easier to hold, works in the dark, no ghosting, totally one-handed use, tons more storage.) Of the five font sizes, I use the three smallest depending on how much movement is going on. Passenger in a car, middle size. Late at night, still in bed, I use the smallest size. Otherwise, the next to smallest size. While I'm reading, my iPod Touch is checking my email, my chess games, my Words with Friends games (similar to Scrabble), allows me instant access to the weather, checks my servers to make sure they're all up and accessible, basically all kinds of apps, plays my favorite music for me, fits in my pocket, handles LOTS of other e-reader formats including PDF, in full color... downside? I have to charge it about once a day... which doesn't stop me from using it, it just temporarily (and vaguely) tethers me to the car, couch, desk or bed. Big whoop.

This is why I don't even bother with the hardware Kindle. It's also why I'm very interested to see what Apple does with the hopefully forthcoming tablet. Not holding my breath after the no-camera, no-GPS iPod non-release last cycle, but one can hope. :)

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656462)

"Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?!"

Presumably the software also runs on future smartbooks that may well have some sort of dual-mode swivel screen (which makes them useful as an e-reader).

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656968)

Who reads a book on an iPod or phone?! Seriously?

Me. Daily.

Do you carry around one of those magnifying screens from "Brazil"?

No. Stanza and Kindle for iPhone have a variable font-size that is perfectly sufficient to approximate or best that of an average paperback.

Re:Does Kurzweil get the idea of an e-Reader? (1)

oscarwumpus (1637213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657180)

I suppose I'll just wait for the full color, multi-media playing e-paper device that is surely to follow, then. And only at that point will I say that Kurzweil "took on" the Kindle. Until such time, I will read my books the old fashioned way: via pictographs on a cave wall by firelight.

And Best Of All (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655690)

(as TFA says) BLIO is free. Seems logical since at this point it's a working concept. It's an idea (seems to be a good one) with no implementation as yet, but it's not quite vaporware because it's based on a working technology and product. Still, it's out there for anyone who wants to develop an e-reader for its own sake (a free reader), or to compete with other readers (another commercial product).

The bad news is "Blio will adopt some form of DRM and proprietary formatting". The good news is there probably won't be time for someone to out together a betting pool on how long it will take to crack said DRM, because by the time they're ready to take wagers it'll be done.

Of course this all depends on whether the singularity will happen, making this and other technology that's not, um, singularity compliant? obsolete. I suppose we can always watch RayKay's output, and when he stops releasing new stuff, assume he's packing his bags for the singularity. I doubt the bags will be full of the "I [heart] The Singularity" t-shirts he's selling. Time will tell whether he'll return and instead sell "I Went To The Singularity And All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt" t-shirts. Along with some other nifty stuff, also hopefully for free.

Re:And Best Of All (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655822)

(as TFA says) BLIO is free. Seems logical since at this point it's a working concept.

Calibre is free. And will read pretty much any e-Book format currently in use. And convert from one form to another, if what you get isn't supported by your particular eBook reader.

And since it also allows you to read the eBooks on your PC, I'm not really sure what the special niche of this Blio thing will be....

Re:And Best Of All (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656976)

Hey, perhaps he's in fact hoping this particular tech will bring the singularity one step closer...

Follow the Marketing (money) (1)

bareman (60518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655696)

The best technology won't necessarily win. The best marketed one will.
(BetaMax, Superdisk, etc...)

Re:Follow the Marketing (money) (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656484)

The best technology won't necessarily win. The best marketed one will.

(BetaMax, Superdisk, etc...)

That's the beauty of capitalism.

meh (2, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655804)

From the fine article:

By focusing on the software, and not trying to maintain a hardware device, Kurzweil hopes to provide the most versatile, life-like electronic version of print books and enhance them with multimedia.

The first problem with this approach is that there's no physical device. Books are physical, portable objects. This software may be wonderful and all, but it still lives in a computer. I've read ebooks for literally years, and I was never happy with the computer-based ereader software. I always preferred reading on something small and portable like a PDA than on my PC. Laptops are better than a desktop PC, but still not as good as a book. Netbooks are closer still, but not quite there.

So you've got a beautiful, life-like electronic version of a print book... And it is stuck on your computer. I'm not impressed.

The next problem is that he's trying to enhance the books with multimedia.

Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

Sure, it might be handy to have good text-to-speech in an ereader... And there are certainly some books that would benefit from a good dose of multimedia content... But, for the most part, I don't think many books are going to benefit from any of this.

There is a reason why classes - even highly visual/interactive ones like science labs - require textbooks. They can spell things out clearly and concisely, complete with diagrams and formula - which words and video can't accomplish as neatly.

There is a reason why I read books instead of going to the movies - well-written text and a healthy imagination can produce better visuals than anything in Hollywood.

Re:meh (1)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656234)

Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

Yeah, funny thing, the Internet came along and wiped out the market for these.

Re:meh (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656696)

Anyone remember when CD-ROMs were just going mainstream? Remember all the multimedia encyclopedias that were available? Remember how cool it was to look up an article on something and be able to watch a video or hear a speech or something? Yeah... Notice how those have pretty much stopped being popular?

Yeah, funny thing, the Internet came along and wiped out the market for these.

I really don't think it was simply the Internet that killed those multimedia encyclopedias.

That would imply that what had died was specifically the multimedia encyclopedia on CD-ROM... But I'm not aware of a whole lot of multimedia encyclopedia websites out there. The obvious one is Wikipedia... But most of those articles are just text with a few images - nothing printed page couldn't deliver.

Or you could suggest that the Internet as a whole has become the multimedia encyclopedia... Type your search into Google and you get tons of answers from all over the place - often with videos available if you want them. But most of the useful information is again text with some simple images.

If you recall those old multimedia encyclopedias, they were chock-full of completely gratuitous multimedia. Stuff that did absolutely nothing to facilitate learning. The whole point was simply show off the fact that you could have video and everything embedded in your encyclopedia.

Re:meh (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656738)

Cd-rom encyclopedias were replaced by fast enough internet.

Re:meh (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657098)

Cd-rom encyclopedias were replaced by fast enough internet.

I didn't say anything about CD-ROM encyclopedias... I specifically said multimedia encyclopedias. I'm referring to the ones that were chock-full of gratuitous multimedia that did absolutely nothing of use - not encyclopedias that just happened to be distributed on CD-ROM.

And while Wikipedia may very well have replaced CD-ROM encyclopedias... It did not replace the multimedia encyclopedia as most of the articles on Wikipedia are simple text with a few images thrown in. Not the piles of gratuitous multimedia that I'm referring to.

Do not want (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655824)

preserves the original format of books

That's precisely what I don't want. A screen is not a page of paper and a window on a screen is very definitely not a page. I want the e-book to reformat itself to fit my current viewing preferences which, by the way, will change from device to device, will change depending on lighting and may even change for no reason at all.

This is nothing special. (3, Funny)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655910)

I have been reading using "ABOOK" for many years now.

1. Long battery life, in fact, it is so advanced, that it doesn't even have "batteries", in the traditional sense.

2. Sure, you have to manipulate the "pages" by hand, but only when you need to turn the page.

3. Heck, I can even loan it to people or, if I am feeling very generous, I can just give "ABOOK" away, whether to friends, family members or the local library.

4. ...

5. PROFIT!!!!

"ABOOK" is a sure WEINNAR!

Stupid names (2, Funny)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655942)

Why do all these products have such stupid names? Brio, Treo, Kindle, Nano, Vaio, blah blah blah. It's like there's a council somewhere that approves product names based only on how gadgety and futuristic they sound, but under the assumption that in the future product names will only end with vowel sounds.

Re:Stupid names (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656080)

Because all real words, and most made up words, have already been claimed, either by real products or by trademark squatters.

Re:Stupid names (1)

DarthSensate (304443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656166)

Why? ... to inspire the same coziness of a book in a cold, lifeless electronic and plastic gadget. Not that I don't like me some cold, lifeless, electronic and plastic gadgets mind you.

Re:Stupid names (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656528)

Why do all these products have such stupid names? Brio, Treo, Kindle, Nano, Vaio, blah blah blah. It's like there's a council somewhere that approves product names based only on how gadgety and futuristic they sound, but under the assumption that in the future product names will only end with vowel sounds.

As opposed to the Apple design council where all product names will only begin with a vowel, and only one particular vowel at that.

Re:Stupid names (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656822)

Why do all these products have such stupid names? Brio, Treo, Kindle, Nano, Vaio, blah blah blah. It's like there's a council somewhere that approves product names based only on how gadgety and futuristic they sound, but under the assumption that in the future product names will only end with vowel sounds.

The brand managers want brand names that sound like they might be real nouns in all languages, many of which require vowel endings. Ideally, they dream of becoming real nouns (asprin, xerox, kleenex...) For services, substitute "verbs", ("to google", e.g.) They also don't want them to actually be real nouns in any language. Remember the fiasco with the Chevy Nova in Spanish markets?

blame the publishers (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30655998)

Don't blame the Kindle for DRM. Blame the book publishers. The Kindle works fine with or without DRM. Unfortunately, publishers are only releasing their content with DRM, so any ebook reader which lacks DRM support is certain to fail (including this one).

not a fan of dedicated e-readers (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656048)

My first e-reader was a palm m130. That's not a dedicated unit, reading books was just a happy secondary ability. But man I read the hell out of that thing. Got a tungsten after that. Again, a great reader. It got long in the tooth and I haven't seen any palm products worth the time. Got clued in on the ipod touch. It's a hell of an ebook platform and oh, by the way, look at all the other stuff it can do.

As far as distribution goes, they're still charging too much for books. I'll pay a dollar or two for an electronic book but there's simply no way in hell I'm paying $10 or $24 for an electronic version. I'm sorry, it's just not happening. But I'm not adverse to paying for things. I've bought apps via the app store. The price is so low, why even bother trying to pirate them? I haven't even checked but I'm sure you can do something to pirate the apps with a jailbroken phone or a hacked touch. It's the same reason why I'll get a movie from the dollar dvd machine at the grocery store as a splurge but won't spend $5 to download it over the Xbox Live service. I'm not paying $5 to rent a damn movie. But a dollar for a movie I want to watch now can be even more convenient than waiting 2-10 hours for a movie to finish on bittorrent, depending on how well it's seeded.

As far as the true cost goes, you can't honestly tell me Xbox Live has higher operational costs than a company putting physical vending machines in locations to distribute physical media. Content companies set price points that are both arbitrary and capricious. This is why the DVD of a $150m movie sells for $14 and the soundtrack sells for $17.

So, the hardware for ebook readers is here, it's awesome, and it's only going to get better. We're just waiting for business practices to catch up.

Re:not a fan of dedicated e-readers (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656550)

But a dollar for a movie I want to watch now can be even more convenient than waiting 2-10 hours for a movie to finish on bittorrent, depending on how well it's seeded.

And don't forget, as compared to purchasing intellectual property, bittorrent offers the unique opportunity to pay a huge fine and/or go to the federally sponsored involuntary ass-fuck brothel for a few years.... I mean, that is priceless!

Feh! (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656074)

Wake me when we get direct neural I/O.

formats and speed (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656240)

The biggest challenge today with electronic texts is that page build needs to be fast. PDF does not perform well. DJVU texts perform much better, are smaller in general and can be read more comfortablly. An ebook reader should be able to read both formats comfortably. Browsing through a book should be fast. I don't see the need for a new format. Give me a reader which can read PDF and DJVU with a decent resolution and page build speed and I'm sold. It is definitely also a software issue because on my Ipod Touch, I can read PDFs more comfortably than with the acrobat hog on the desktop. The Blio looks like a step in the right direction (no OSX nor linux support however for now and I do not see it on the app store neither for the iphone).

Re:formats and speed (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30656658)

The biggest challenge today with electronic texts is that page build needs to be fast.

Yes, in order for real speed, convenience and maximum processing efficiency, we'll have to move to an advanced format like ASCII with embedded bitmap references. Possibly something as advanced as basic HTML. The basic technologies will become available in the future, perhaps around the 1970's or so, though you'll have to wait a few more years for HTML. You'll need at least a 4-bit processor running at 1 MHz to handle them, too.

One can only wait patiently for the future to unfold...

Hype from the hype-master (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656800)

A grain of salt on the source of this info, please: singularityhub.com is part of Kurzweil's extensive publicity machine. The article is written as if by a neutral third party, but it's all just more of the same breathless hype from a self-promoter par excellance. Why do they pretend to be objective? Sad. Transparent.

e4b! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30656838)

benefits of beiH8g

And publishers respond... (1)

Theodore (13524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30657190)

With a copy-rape...
in 3..2..1..

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