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Google Takes Books Through The Looking Glass With Augmented Reality

The technology could one day serve as the basis for a product that embraces the physical book, while adding cool digital content on top.

Technology that would bring the experience of reading a book into the 21st century—and not by replacing the book with a computer—was patented today by Google, according to filings posted today at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The technology outfits a physical book with numerous page sensors, touch sensors, and motion sensors to understand the reader's movements. Based on those movements and the storyline of the book, the system adds augmented reality elements over the pages.Google calls the invention, simply, the "Storytelling Device," or "Interactive Book."

A small hamburger-shaped device plugs into an interface over the spine of the book and projects imagery over the pages. And a small speaker adds sound to the experience.

Google has released many patents for various parts of the invention. For example, one of the patents released today describes how sensors detect the turning of a page to trigger audiovisual events.

The technology is interesting because it embraces an age-old physical medium and adds compelling digital audio and imagery on top. Let's just hope there are no ads.

In another patent published today, we get a look at the "Media Enhanced Pop-up Book," an earlier take on the augmented book that uses a phone or tablet to to add to the reading experience. Each page of the book has another page that opens up vertically. A phone or tablet sits behind that page and projects complementary images through to the reader.

Both patents were originally filed by the same team of five Google engineers in early January 2015.

Research provided by legal technology firm ClientSide.

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