SmartBook 1

The “Smart Tagged” Book that is Smart, Readable and Searchable:
A Third Option for Publishers

A Potential Motorola – Google – – Beal Centre Collaboration

Abstract: We are proposing a book that is smart, searchable and readable. We will analyze this opportunity using the New Product Filter developed at the Beal Centre.

Starting Idea: The “Smart Book”, which is smart (i.e knows what the reader wants to learn), searchable and readable. We are proposing a new format for books by embedding a “smart tag” into a standard printed folio book that has the text of the book in a searchable digital format that can be accessed by a Dataspace Enabler. The book can be made smart highlighting its content for the user whose profile is embedded in the “Smartbook” Enabler. The “smart book” would represent a third option for book publishers in addition to the standard printed book (option 1) and various digital formats such as an ebook or a book on a CD-ROM (option 2).

Options 1 and 2 have their advantages which may be described simply as the printed book is the best form yet devised for readability and the digital book is the format of choice for searching and researching. The folio book also has the advantage for quick browsing to get the feel of the book especially if the book has a detailed table of contents and index and is written so that the contents of the book are summarized in the first few pages of the book. The ebook has the additional advantage that for a complex subject one can easily hypertext back and forth with the ebook’s search capabilities to tie together related themes. If the ebook is written taking advantage of hypertext this ability to tie together complex themes can be achieved for the reader.

The smart book has all the advantages of both options 1 and 2 but it also can customize the use of the book for the reader.

The Beal Centre New Product Filter

We will examine the opportunity that this idea represents by making use of the Beal Centre New Product Filter, which is attached to this document as an appendix.

Filter 1: Description of the Opportunity, Acceptability and Nowability

Description of the Opportunity

The opportunities with the “smart book” are two-fold. First there is the development of the “smart tags” for the books and then there is the development of the “Smart Book” Enabler.

The business method is to first convince book publishers to create “smart books” to create the market for the “smart book” tags. The next step is to get university libraries to adopt the system for the benefit of their users to create a market for the “Smart Book” Enabler. The third step is to get the large book chains to adopt the system for inventory control and as a marketing feature that will attract more customers who will be able to find the books in the store that satisfy their needs with the advantage that the customers will be able to browse the book in the store both electronically and in the printed book itself.

The potential applications correspond to the following three levels of access.

1. Owner of book can capture data in book electronically - they will
create a personal searchable library with a smart catalog.

2. Library version - library patrons can access the entire book
electronically or read it in hard copy - but they are also able to search it - but not copy it electronically.

3. Book store version before the book is purchased. The “smart tag” creates a smart shelf that tells customers where they may find a book or books that meet their interest and describe to them where in the store they can find the book. They will be able to access the book electronically but they will not be able to copy any of the pages except promotional pages at the discretion of the publisher and the author.


We believe this the opportunity responds to an existing or emerging human behavior?

There already exists books that are searchable and readable which are achieved by

1. A number of printed books include a CD-ROM with the digital content of the book so that the book’s content can be searched.

2. The Delicious Library ( is a system where one points any FireWire digital video camera, like an Apple iSight®, at the barcode on the back of any book, movie, music, or video game. The bar code is scanned and of in-depth information is downloaded from one of six different Web sites. The system also allows the user to catalog their personal library. The system can be used for a small lending library to keep track of book borrowers.

3. Ebooks enjoy a certain amount of acceptance and are sometimes used together with a hard copy book so as to combine both readability and searchability.

4. At the book publisher O’Reilly Media offers the following combination of services aimed at programmers and IT professionals:

• Searches across all the 3,000 technical books in its Safari collection.
• The ability to read the Safari books on one’s bookshelf from cover to cover or simply flip to the needed pages.
• The ability to browse technical books by category.
• The ability to download chapters for viewing offline.

5. There does not exist any smart books yet, but having personalized information delivered to one’s email box is quite popular with many different organizations providing alert services in which the user of the service is alerted to newspaper articles and/or Web sites that contain a requested key word or words.


The technology exists today for developing this product. “Smart tags” are now a standard technology. The “Smartbook” Enabler will be a basically a combination of a cell phone and a PDA that contains a program that can identify the interests and desires for information and knowledge of the user. The hardware for this project is standard. All that is required is some programming that can digitize the interest and desires of the user as well as some standard IR (information retrieval) protocols.

Filter 2

The Collaboration
The collaboration I am proposing would involve the following players:

Motorola to build the Enabler to access the “smart tag”, search its contents and reorganize the contents in the form of notes pertinent to the reader. to create the first “Smart Tagged Books” and to provide a service to publishers who want to bring out their print folio books in a “smart tagged” edition.

The Beal Centre to do basic and applied research needed to create such a new product for Dataspace. The Beal Centre would explore further possible benefits of a “smart tag” book to maximize the competitive position of such a product including the following:

"When should the folio text choose to volunteer information to me through my enabler?"

"How would I expect the speaking printed text to augment and enhance other digital media (film/music/pictures/web/etc)?"

"What information and possibilities are contained in a proximal library of smart books - how do they know one another?"

Google to coordinate with Google Print and to provide their search engine capabilities for searching a “smart tagged” book.

Nomenclature: Perhaps “Smart Tagged” book is too wordy and “Smart Book” is a better choice since in time “Smart Tagged” would devolve to “smart book”.

Impacts: 1. More business for the four collaborators.
2. Publishing industry
3. Academic and trade journals
4. Magazines and newspapers – imagine the Smart Economist or the Smart NY Times
5. Libraries – imagine students checking out an Enabler at their information commons or imagine students buying their own Enabler because they do not wish to wait in line for their library provided Enabler.
6. Imagine inserting smart tags in all the out of print books being scanned by Google, Project Gutenberg, the Million Book Project and a project at the University of Toronto.
7. Imagine publishers reissuing their current books in print in “Smart Tagged” editions

Market Opportunity

The tactical opportunity that we are proposing is to combine the strengths of two media to create a third:
Searchable text that is also readable and knows what you want to know (or Readable text that is also Smart and

The ^\Delicious Monster^] personal library service endeavors to achieve this union in a limited manner by using
the iSight camera to read a barcode pattern on a product and access some associated digital content.† This
application, while notable in its ability to make the personal holdings digitally shareable, offers only
predetermined Amazon content to augment the physical library.

Although the Delicious Monster application is limited in the amount of information and relevance it provides it
does portend of things to come. Obviously there is an interest in the marketplace of the ability to digitally
enable the content of books.†

Reviewers of this feature thought there was cool in the conversion of a camera to a barcode reader but felt that
it suffered from the technical difficulties of reading a barcode.† We note that the remedy to this problem is the
use of smart tags because there is no ^\hit and miss^] with RF signals.

^\[Turning the iSight into a barcode scanner] sounds like a cool feature, but to be honest in my testing I found
it to be a little hit or miss...getting the iSight lined up just right can be tricky, and I had even more
problems if my hand wavered at all while trying to scan.^]

24 January 2005††

We bring this development to the readers attention because this is a signal that something out there is
percolating and there is a potential market out there for the ^\smart book^] that we are proposing in this paper.

The other two alternatives that we looked at for readability and searchability were the printed book combined
with the CD-Rom or the e-book combined with a hard copy.† These two alternatives are superior to the delicious
library in that one can search the entire content of the book.† These two options however, are somewhat
pedestrian and do not have the ^\cool^] of the Delicious library.

All three of these formats that are searchable and readable lack the killer feature that we are proposing, namely
that they are not ^\smart^].††With the smart tagged book and an Enabler that knows the user, one would be able to
pull out of the book those features that are most relevant.† This is the major advantage of what we are proposing
because the ongoing explosion of information makes it impossible to read everything.† The smart tag is not
essential for a book that one would wish to read recreationally such as a murder mystery.† However there might be
elements in any book that one might wish to go back and access or look for in advance.

What's more, the novelty cool in the Barcode Camera is offset and diminished by frequent and daily exposure to
Barcode scanning technology.†† The fact that the camera is the tool is only perceived as a subtle
difference.††The implicit strategic opportunity that we are proposing is to create the first moment of ^\magic^]
when a device speaks to a non-device in a useful way.

By making an established personal device sense a non-digital object and offer a seamless leap to a useful and
useable content service, we propose to create an experience of magic.† Furthermore, we mark all future proximity
of services as followers of this moment.† We make room in the public imagination for the possibility of a device
speaking to anything, forever changing the expectation of what is possible.†

There is an element of timing in this pursuit.† The ^\aware environment^] impact of RFID tagging has been on the
radar of technology and innovation groups for some time (see the IFTF Deep Place and Aware Environments
projects).† But the public perception of possibility for this level of application is still in the realm of
science fiction.†

Whoever is first involved in this device/non-device communication will own the advantage of public "expectation
of capability" in this field.


  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <img> <br> <p> <b> <i>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Content © Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity.