On Monday there was an article on Techcrunch about a startup called Inkling that has developed an innovative digital textbook platform for the iPad (picture above). Their technology adds collaboration, multimedia, 3D, quizzes and social interaction to the basic reading experience and they have just released their first book/app – an iPad version of Lights, Camera, Capture: Creative Lighting Techniques for Digital Photographers. It is priced at $9.99.
The app contains the full text of the original, over 100 videos, and interactive photography simulators which allow you to change one parameter and see how it affects an image.
This is a huge step forward from reading a paper book and will make learning easier and more fun.
I’m writing about this because it shows how computer based books open up the possibility for novel interfaces which change the way we access content. We have seen some of this already as RSS readers have changed the way we read news sites and apps like Flipboard change the way we browse sits like Facebook, but Inkling takes interface innovation to the next level – moving beyond reading to other modes of interaction.
I think there is scope for other platforms like Inkling and more innovation in this area generally. Some of that will take the form of app platforms that work with content providers and some will take the form of new devices and operating system enhancements that hardware manufacturers build into their tablets to make them better than the competition. The touch screen was the first of these innovations, and it was a big one (and it may be the biggest), but it won’t be the last.
As an aside – for those that are following the Kindle vs iPad or dedicated e-reader vs generalised tablet debate this sort of development favours tablets and iPads as generalised computing platforms are better platforms for innovation than dedicated devices.