Buzzing from my thoughts about Kindle yesterday, here’s a little glimpse into what the near future might look like …
I am making dinner while listening to a SmartBook on my Google Universal Player. I have a great insight about how what I’ve just heard applies to a course I will be teaching, so I speak into the microphone that is part of my earpiece and tell the book to pause. After I clean my hands, I pull out the device and can see the text of what I just listened to on the screen. Using the touch features of the device, I highlight the part that inspired my thought and then use the microphone to create a voice annotation at that spot (which the player converts to text for the “margin” of the book).
I resume listening, and after a few minutes I hear the small “ding” that signals there is video available related to the material I just heard. I speak into the microphone again, telling the player to go ahead and show me – I hear the question “Screen or Player” and I speak “Screen.” The player uses GPS and the wireless network to determine the nearest screen to its location and the TV that is nearest to me flickers to life and in a few moments, plays the 3-minute Internet video about the content I have just listened to (pulling the content from the Wi-Fi network in my house). When it is finished, the player asks me if I would like to make any additional notes before it continues.
Several hours later, after dinner, I sit down at the computer and pull up the book I am currently learning using the widget on my screen. I have now finished 72% of the book, and I can choose to access my notes alone or the text and notes that I have made. Toggling between these options, I write some new essay questions for a course I will be teaching next semester. Then I tag the notes that I think will be interesting to my friends or students who are also reading/listening to the book, and they are loaded to the Internet. When they reach these passages in the book, they will hear a subtle ding that indicates that someone they are sharing with has added comments there.
The widget also lists some words that I encountered in my reading that it thinks I may not know. I’ve been working to increase my vocabulary and the program uses simple AI and grade-level difficulty of words to make intelligent guesses about words I may not know. I take a few minutes to read through the new words in the context of the book I was just listening to. Using the context, I guess at the definitions and indicate my confidence level about each word from a short list of definitions and get immediate feedback. I knew one of them, but the other four words were new. These will be added to my morning word practice routine – something I do from my player while I am on the treadmill at the gym.
Is this scenario all that far fetched? We have earpieces that double as microphone and headphones. We have handheld devices with touch screens. We have programs that will take your audio instructions and translate them to text via your mobile device. We have mobile devices with built-in GPS. We have programs that assess your learning and prescribe a course of action for you to take to learn more. We have earpieces that double as microphone and headphones. We have devices for your TV that hook into your home’s wireless network and stream movies from the Internet. We have programs that allow us to share bookmarks, comments, and annotations on websites with our chosen friends.
All that’s left is for someone to put it all together.
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