Wow! The Design of an Everyday Thing!!

So here we are, racking our brains to come up with a new technology (or an improvement on a technology that already exists) and we’re like, “man, this is harder than I thought it would be,” or, “man, I already have a gadget that does that…”. But now, I’m like, “man, I wish I would have thought of this!” Google Books engineer, Dany Qumsiyeh presents this video about his brand new design of a page-turning, digital scanner that converts paper books into completely digital books!

Let’s take a moment and relate this back to all our class discussions regarding Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Now, first things first, I know there is much, much more that needs to go into the development before this page-turning, vacuum scanner hits the market. Let’s keep that in mind, but let’s still talk about how well designed this scanner is at first glance. Norman presents this whole idea about affordances — the perceived and actual properties of the thing. He argues that affordances of an object are perhaps the most fundamental properties that tell the users how it operates. Let’s look at the affordances of this scanner: because of its prism shape, there is really only way to set the book on it! And I’m sure there is a button (or two) to tell the machine to start and stop, but assuming those are straight forward, the user doesn’t have to do anything while the machine flips the pages and scans the content of the book. When we look at the scanners we’re using right now, we have to turn the pages ourselves and worry about the orientation and the margins, and — ugh, it just becomes so inconvenient!! What do you think about the design? Is it as clear as a glass door (that’s funny because if it’s a glass door, there isn’t a way to tell if you should push or pull and so it’s really not ‘clear’ at all)?

This machine is awesome! Nowadays, paper is obsolete and, dare I say, forgotten. Everything is digital! I was already complaining about how inconvenient it is to flip the pages myself, so I won’t go there again. Dany claims that the machine involves a 40-second set-up! 40 seconds! What do you guys think about it? Is it really that big of a break through? Is it designed well enough (according to you or Norman) to make it big time in the Market?

Here’s one last thing: the best part of all of this remains that all these plans are open sourced with open patents, meaning even you guys can experiment and expand on it. Milestone 3 idea, anyone???

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8 responses to “Wow! The Design of an Everyday Thing!!

  1. So I am pretty stoked about this, and I look forward to the day I can actually buy one of these. Granted not everyone (even with $1,500) could put this together, it certainly seems straightforward. Its prism-like shape does suggest the proper and precise orientation of the book as you noted.

    The addition of the scanners would eliminate the problem of feedback. In other words, when something went wrong, the machine would stop, instantly alerting the user that an error had occurred.

    In terms of commercialization and mass production, obviously they would have to package a scanner and vaccuum. However, even if everything were packaged, I wonder if the average user could properly assemble it? That might be just as much a challenge as getting it to function properly.

  2. So with a few modifications i think this is an awesome idea, I am an avid book reader and its literally a pain to have two bookshelves full of books. I am looking at buying an e reader but i don’t want to lose all the investment i have in my physical books. This seems like an amazing solution, and its one of those “duh” ideas that i can’t believe no one has thought of. I also like how they open sourced everything, i don’t know about everyone else, but it seems like kind of a thumb in the eye to apple, you know because of the whole lawsuit thing.

  3. This is a great topic to relate to the design of everyday things. I love the idea of digital books and being able to do it yourself with a scanner is awesome. But if this scanner is so easily used, I fear that there would be some copyrights issues. For example, if i scan a textbook then sell it to everyone in class for a fraction of the cost, it should be illegal. But then again, maybe this will spark the idea of making textbooks digital in general and at a cheaper cost from the textbook distributors. I personally like having a solid book in my hands. On a computer I am too easily distracted with other things and I like to highlight and write things, and that is not easily done on a computer. It is going to be interesting to see where this type of technology takes us in the future.

    • Perhaps it should be illegal for you to scan your textbook and then distribute copies to other students in your class. But look at the music industry — it’s so easy to torrent song after song. Sure, we’re talking $0.99 vs. $150 for books, but the idea of copyright issues still exits. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And I’m sure once this scanner hits the market, hackers will be all over trying to make it easier and easier to “steal” textbooks. I don’t think there is really any avoiding that at this point in time.

  4. I believe this machine is great and would make life much more convenient as well as increase the health of students as they would not need to carry around backpacks overflowing with burdensome textbooks. Also, the idea that more and more technology is going open-sourced and begging for innovation proves that humanity is finally able to take the first steps to break away from it’s obsession with putting a name tag on everything and is now more focused on improvement. It also would cut out much of the middleman when it comes to publishing books since the need for a publisher to distribute the book would become almost nonexistent. After all, it is the publishers who put such steep prices on books and then treat the authors like garbage by paying them a pittance. With this machine the money could go straight to the people who deserve it, the authors.

  5. The idea seems really cool and would make things super convenient for a ton of people I think. Especially for college kids who have a ton of text books to read and look over, it would be super convenient to have them on your laptop or tablet to reference when you need to.
    The convenience of the idea is wonderful, but some part of me still loves holding a physical copy of a book and reading it that way. There’s something gratifying about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages yourself. I’m like that with a lot of new technology though, like with music and the formats it comes in. I still like going out and buying a new album and holding it in my own hands. Do you think that new technology takes away some of the sentimental value of the things we enjoy like reading books and listening to music?

  6. I think it would be more efficient to just rip the spine off of the book. Then you could just feed each individual page into the scanner with rollers. Of course, this completely destroys the book- not something Google can do since it doesn’t own most of the books it scans.
    I think it’s amazing how many physical books are still printed each year. This number is only going to decrease as more and more people accept digital readers as more convenient and cheaper, probably leading to a huge increase in piracy. It’s probably going to be a lot harder to convince someone not to pirate a book than a song, just due to the nature of the content.

  7. I disagree in the sense that I believe books will always hold at the very least sentimental value to people. Holding a book is an experience that I believe cannot be replaced… although that may be because I do not own a Kindle. In any case, the scanner itself is amazing. I think of ASU’s giant incomprehensible library catalog and am salivating thinking of it all being digitalized and easily searchable. Turning the entire library to pdfs would take quite a long time, but I think it would be entirely worth it.

    However, if books were no longer printed, lumber companies would lose a lot of money. So I think books will be around for a while.

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