HistoryofScience.com Blog

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Page-Turning Robot Turns the Pages of Physical Books

As those of you who have checked out From Cave Paintings to the Internet know, I am especially interested in what may be called the "intersections" of media -- points in which different media, such as computing and books, intersected in the history of media. What about this one--a robot page turner called Book Time Robot developed in Japan by Electric Machine Works? From my point of view this is a peculiar intersection of robotics and the traditional book form. According to a video on YouTube the device actually works, but one wonders who would actually use it.

This invention even picked up the "Robot of the Year" award for last year in Japan.

The gadget lab blog at Wired.com is not enthusiastic about the device, which may have been intended for use by paraplegics:

"Book Time, a page turning robot, is in practice a wonderfully useless piece of whimsy. The video shows the poor machine struggling to get a grip and flip a page. It’s funny when seen once or twice, but imagine using this and seeing the same hydraulic hesitation on every turn — the very definition of frustration.

This is sad. A look at a still photograph of the device shows the activation control — a tube into which you blow. Imagine being unable to turn pages by hand and using this instead. A boon, certainly, but the anxiety accompanying every blow, hoping that the robo-arms won’t jump their rails and just fold a page, would be excruciating. Plus, you need somebody with hands to load the thing every time you need to change books. Far better would be a voice operated e-book reader."

As soon as I figure out how to imbed the video I will include it here. In the meantime the video is available at the several of the hyperlinks in this post.

posted by Jeremy Norman @ 4:24 PM   19 Comments

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