Intel threw its hat into the e-reader ring today with the release of the Intel Reader--which, unlike any other reader, is built specifically for the blind. With an onboard camera, Intel's device can convert text from any page photographed by a user into audio, which is read aloud through headphones. Which will surely upset someone, somewhere.
The Intel reader is designed for the 55 million people in the U.S. alone that suffer from some kind of vision-related ailment that impairs their reading. And on top of the photo text recognition feature, a separate content capture station can convert large amounts of text, even an entire book, into audio for easier consumption.
And therein lies the snag: publishing companies have expressed distaste in the past for any device that takes copyrighted printed word and converts it into audio--see the recent dispute over Kindle 2's ability to read its books aloud, which was intended for use by the blind.
The blind have been reading e-books since before they were cool, using computer software that reads the books aloud or enlarges the text to a readable size. In response to piracy, many e-book sellers build DRM code into their e-books, making the digital versions hard to duplicate. That DRM software often keeps third-party software, such as text-to-speech programs, from accessing the digital text and translating it to audio.
While the rising popularity of audiobooks has mitigated this problem somewhat (and created a fresh revenue stream for publishers), publishers aren't thrilled with any device that cuts into said revenue stream. The losers in all this will likely be, of course, visually impaired people, who just can't seem to stay away from digital-rights-related controversies in the e-reader space.
It's too bad really, because the Intel Reader–though a touch on the pricey side at $1,500 if we may say so–is a really good idea. Fifty-five million people in the U.S. are living life with varying degrees of disadvantage that could be alleviated by this kind of technology. However, in the ongoing struggle between bleeding edge technology and archaic intellectual property law, the latter has a pretty good track record so far.
As a published author I can tell you that many authors are upset over "E" versions of their books. We're of the mind that we may as well give our intellectual property away. What's the point in slaving for weeks, months, or years to create something that can be downloaded in seconds for a fraction of a book's cost. As an author, I think E-books are a rip off. They may be the future and convenient, but they rob me blind.
I like that pun at the end. Ha ha.
I agree with you about the rip off on books, but consider its advantages such as convenience(as you already stated)and their impact ecologically.
Honestly cinemabon I would rather buy a digital version of a book rather than waste the paper to buy a book. Furthermore with the current economic shift available copies of piopular books/authors can be difficult. I have had the pleasure of tacking on close to 100 miles because books were unavailable locally. If they had been available online through a subscription service much like a scientific journal I would have gladly paid for it there.
For the record to this point in my college career I have not had any luck "stealing" source information from scientific journal publishers that provide resources over the internet.
However my school was able to get me a paid to the author copy for my studies. Consider that before you think everyone is going to steal your product.
Want to make it more difficult set up a keycode generator for authoring sites that requires the user to key in their keycode each time they view... This is what Blizzard is using to prevent hackers from stealing accounts now.
Sorry you feel that ebooks and other formats, take away from your profit. I guess you really don't write books for your fans but for the money. Well sorry to say you will not be getting any money, from me because I am one of the 55 million Americans who suffers from visual impairments. And so I will be spending my money on ebooks written by people who don't care about the money but would rather have their books read by whomever possible.
After actually doing some research on this device it seems the purpose is to read a book you already own or have access to. It looks like you have to take a picture of the page you want to read. I think if you were sight impaired you may have a different perspective on this piece of technology.