Spring Design Alex dual-display Android ebook reader: headed for B&N?

Oct 19, 2009
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Remember the Barnes and Noble dual-display ebook reader spotted in concept form last week?  There's obviously something in the water, as Spring Design have just announced an ebook reader, the Alex, with both a 6-inch E Ink panel and a 3.5-inch color touchscreen, based on Google's Android platform and with integrated 3G and WiFi.

The touchscreen can be used to browse the web and grab clippings, which can then be viewed on the e-ink panel.  Spring Design have also developed what they call Link Notes, a hybrid of traditional ebooks, clippings, multimedia and user notes.  As for production possibilities, the company claim to be in discussion with "selected strategic partners" and "major content" providers, with a release expected by the end of 2009.

Storage is via SD card, and there's a headphones socket and full smartphone functionality.  Spring Design call the dual-display system Duet Navigator, and as well as being used to pull up related photos, news articles, media content and more, it will also aid in annotation and searches by offering an on-screen keyboard.

It's entirely possible that B&N's device - the name of which couldn't be revealed at the time of the initial leak, but which was mocked somewhat as being vaguely ridiculous - is the same as this "Alex" ebook reader.  With a Barnes and Noble event in New York this week - which SlashGear will be attending - we're keeping our fingers crossed that the production version of the Spring Design Alex gets an official announcement.

Press Release:

Spring Design Announces Dual-Screen Google Android-based E-book Reader, Hyperlinking Text with Multimedia

Secondary color touchscreen supplements text with web-based or any linked multimedia content; Enables users to enhance original text with their own embedded video, audio, photos and notes

FREMONT, CA - OCTOBER 19, 2009-- Spring Design today announced Alex™, the first e-book based on Google Android featuring full browser capabilities and patented dual screen interaction technology, the Duet Navigator™. The Alex livens up text with multimedia links, adding a new dimension to the reading experience and potentially creating a whole new industry for secondary publications that supplement and enhance original text. Alex's dual-screen display design brings together the efficiency of reading on a monochrome EPD (electronic paper display) screen while dynamic hyperlinked multimedia information and third party input on its secondary color LCD screen, actually an integrated Android mobile device, opens a rich world of Internet content to support the text on the main screen.

Alex is the first Google Android-based e-book device to provide full Internet browsing over Wi-Fi or mobile networks such as 3G, EVDO/CDMA and GSM. With its dual-screen, multi-access capability, it provides the entire Web universe as a handy reference library, prompting users to delve into its vast information base to complement, clarify or enhance what they are reading. Alex is the first truly mobile wireless e-book device that gives users their own personalized library on the go, whenever and wherever they need it.

Spring Design pioneered its patented dual-screen device with 'touch and extend' capability in 2007, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the past two years to share its vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. Alex brings together the efficiency of an EPD display with the responsiveness and richness of navigational convenience of the LCD screen. Its removable SD card gives users extensive storage, allowing them to expand their text with multimedia "add on" editions.

Ideal for professional, educational and entertainment markets, Alex dynamically transforms the reader's experience with images, videos and notes inserted as 'Web grabs' or with custom text created by the user or other secondary authors pertaining to the subject being displayed. Users can create their own images and notes and capture them to augment the original text or just dynamically grab relevant content with Link Notes™, Alex's innovative multimedia authoring tool to enhance multimedia publishing.

"This is the start of a whole new experience of reading content on e-books, potentially igniting a whole new industry in multimedia e-book publishing for secondary authors to create supplementary content that is hyper linked to the text. We are bringing life to books with audio, video, and annotations," said Dr. Priscilla Lu, CEO of Spring Design. "This gives readers the ability to fully leverage the resources on the Web, and the tools available in search engines to augment the reading experience."

Alex™ features a 6" E-Ink EPD display and 3.5" color LCD display, earphones and speakers. A removable SD card will free up library space on the device while letting users archive content for future reference. The enhanced Android OS is optimized to support integration between the color and monochrome displays while preserving battery life. Users can capture and cache web content from their online experience on the LCD screen, and toggle to view it on the EPD screen without taxing the battery life. Browser features such as bookmarking, history, and security settings are built in and the device, with full Android browsing capability, is mobile-enabled with smart phone capabilities.

Spring Design is currently in discussion with, and enlisting major content partners and plans to release the Alex device for selected strategic partners by the end of this year.

About Spring Design:
Spring Design Inc., founded in 2006, delivers innovative e-reader solutions and products to the e-book market, offering overall "Link Notes", a content authoring and multi-media publishing tool as add on editions to original text. Spring Design Inc. is located in Fremont, California with engineering offices in Taiwan and China. Spring Design Inc. pioneered its patent-pending dual screen design with Duet Navigator™ capability in 2006, and has been working with major book stores, newspapers and publishers over the last 2 years, sharing the vision and the capabilities of the dual screen device. Spring Design's innovative patented technologies incorporate the seamless interaction of dual display and multi-online access in a single device, benefiting and leveraging the technology and resources of the Web to enhance the reading experience with "Web Grab".


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