We have the e-book, how about the “intelligent” book?

Spock might have liked this. A company called Vulcan has decided that the next logical step to take in the e-book world is to produce an e-book that can answer your questions.

The 4th of August edition of the The New Scientist profiled the Inquire, a biology textbook that students can access via an iPad.  The clever bit is that they can also highlight a passage of text or type in a question to access help in understanding terminology or complex phrases.  The Inquire can convert a question into a query that it can understand which it will then use to find results from a concept map.

A California college even ran a test to see if students using the Inquire performed better in a quiz than those using the normal text.  Evidently they did.

It sounds like a very interesting and potentially useful idea, but may not be very disruptive. At least, not for quite a while.  It takes a long time to encode all the data and create the concept mapping behind the text although, to be fair, the biology text is a hefty tome at 1,400 pages. After two years they are half-way through and hope to have finished the whole book by the end of next year, with the help of 18 biologists.

If someone can work out a way to speed up the data encoding, it may be shades of things to come.  You can have a look at the actual project here and see some examples of how it works.



This entry was posted in Digital books, Featured sites, Future views, Information literacy, Psychology of search, Scientific sites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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