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.