I recently followed a little discussion on Facebook. It was about e-readers and the question of whether innovations can still be expected for this group of devices.

There are usually two camps for reading eBooks:

  • The traditional
  • The Practical

The traditional refuse digital reading and continue to insist on reading only “real” books, do not want to miss the haptic feeling of reading and often want to be able to prove their literacy with their bookcase. Practical people, on the other hand, insist that they have all the books they need with them at all times and like to emphasise that content is more important to them than form. A war of faith, so to speak, because it is also about the attitude towards technology and the new in itself.

Even if or precisely because the participants in the above discussion all belonged to the practical group, a small question mark crept into my brain while reading the contributions. Especially because  more and more thought was given to the fact that eReader today are already “technically out-developed” (i.e. meaning, that this product line has nothing left to improve on) and that no further innovations are to be expected in this field.

So I did some research. Amazingly, eReaders (meaning digital devices for reading book content) have been on the market for almost 30 years. The basis was the CD-Rom, which could store an immense amount of data from a view point of those times. In 1990 Sony offered the Data Discman (DD-1), the textual counterpart to its music-playing brother Disman. Back then, it was possible to read and search texts with it.

See here:

https://youtu.be/MXXiRJAKC4w

Then there were various attempts to make texts available electronically. But the real success of the eReader came when the manufacturer E-Ink developed the electronic paper and thus made handy devices possible that came very close to the use of books.

But now back to the initial question, are the technical innovations “developed” here? The argument put forward is that there is hardly any room for development until more memory or improved displays are available.

I see it a little more openly:

  • Color displays would be obvious, only then would there be the complete digital reading experience in “The Infinite Story” (The technology already exists:
    https://youtu.be/9aEYT79-vuo
  • If there are rollable televisions, why not rollable or foldable models that come even closer to book-like operation?
    https://youtu.be/egPe8UZAUQ0
  • New rechargeable batteries that charge up through movement and therefore never have to be plugged into the socket again.
    https://youtu.be/4j4w_36X0nU

And another thought at the end: Can we, even with technically very pronounced specialist knowledge, say where the end of an innovation can be found? In this fast-moving world with so many innovations sprouting from all corners and inspiring each other, it is becoming increasingly difficult to predict which development a product will take and what will follow. Whether layman or expert, as long as you can think outside the box, everything is conceivable and feasible.

Think for yourself!