Idea #9: Create an app that turns pages by itself

E-readers aren’t just meant to conserve paper. Like any innovations, they should also make life easier. We don’t need to lumber over to our nearest dictionaries every time a big word comes up. Additionally, lower costs of production are passed on in the form of cheaper books. The list goes on.

That’s all great for regular bookworms, but e-readers should be applied elsewhere as well. We just have to ask ourselves where paper is used and how e-readers can make life better in those cases. One example is in music. Having played in my school’s concert band for a few years, I remember the nuisance of using paper music notation. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed like I always had to turn the page in the middle of my instrument’s solo. And I’m sure professional musicians have all had a similar problem as well. E-readers have already begun to solve this, as there are already digital versions of many songbooks, including this one. The problem is that there’s still no way to turn the pages without taking your hands off of your instrument.

The Concept:
Create a way to turn the pages. Or, in this case, a way to scroll through them.
Step 1: Instead of a side-to-side page layout, create a large up-and-down continuous page by placing each page under the previous one, so that it can be read in the same way as this blog and most other websites. Readers can scroll down bit by bit, just like they do with most PDFs online.
Step 2: Because music is obviously audible, set up a system of scrolling that removes a line of music from the page once it’s been played, then brings in another line at the bottom of the screen. (Or turn pages like slideshows as e-readers usually do. I guess it’s a matter of taste.)
Step 3: Record what the music should sound like. When the customer plays a part of a song, have the app calculate his/her place according to the recording on the page and move there.
In short, this uses sound-recognition technology to scroll through staff sheets of music automatically, with no physical contact with the musician.

The Pros:

  • This has multiple uses. For example, this system can be paired with voice-recognition technology to help public speakers, making an advanced teleprompter. I’m sure there are other ways to use this as well. Add a camera, and an entirely new dimension of possibilities opens up.
  • This doesn’t only have to be for the people at the center of an audience’s attention, either. In a future filled with e-textbooks in classrooms, an instructor can send students notes and visual aids beforehand. As s/he speaks, the notes will automatically jump to the relevant parts when the device hears the professor saying key words.
    • Adding sound recognition to an e-reader is also useful for voice commands such as “turn to page nine.”
  • A technology like this one shouldn’t be hard to create. It’s simply adding one more layer to music-recognition concepts like Shazam and Midomi.
  • If you charge for it, I imagine that you’re going to make quite a bit of money. The iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Kindle, nook, Sony Reader, and several other products have e-reading capabilities, and many have app stores, so the potential is huge.

The Cons:

  • I don’t think the Kindle has a microphone that will enable this. However, timing the scrolling so it matches the music’s tempo may work just as well.
  • If this is implemented for large groups of people who need to stay synchronized, such as orchestras, buying e-readers for everybody is difficult to justify when the price is compared to paper.
  • This isn’t so good for independent members of groups, either. A kid practicing his part during rehearsal may have interference due to his classmates playing different parts of the song.

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