Monday, November 03, 2008

BPN 1258 TNO researches e-reader chain

The Dutch research company TNO will start a program researching the e-reader chin. It will bring together the participants from the entire chain and will look into usage, data format, chain integration and business models. TNO will work together with publishers and retail companies.

As part of its knowledge-building programme, TNO already conducted a study into e-readers and reached the conclusion that, within two and a half years, e-readers will be a household item in the Netherlands. By 2013, probably 27% of people in the Netherlands will own one. TNO is working with publishers to set up a follow-up standardisation project. Companies are very welcome to participate in this.

TNO has presented its plans to a select group of graphical and ICT organisations, publishers and retail companies. The financing of the study will come from the participants. The research will limit itself to reading book with the help of e-readers. Readers like the iLiad of iRex, Sony and PlasticLogic will be used for the pilot. eReader software on other devices such as laptops and smartphones will not be part of the research. Also newspapers and magazines will be left aside as well as colour. It will not mean that the research will just be limited to books as books have a wide variety. This yield various reading habits, markets and chains.

One of the major obstacles will be the data format. There is no standard or even compromise over this. An XML variant with cascading style sheets (css)looks obvious, but manufacturers and publishers have no common vision on this. PDF is not an option as the lay-out does not automatically adapt to e-readers.

At present another research project involving e-readers is being conducted. It is the newspaper project MePaper. This project involves five Dutch newspapers and two research institutes. Aim of the project to develop novel journalistic formats for new technological devices for mobile newsreading: the e-ink mounted iLiad and forthcoming 'ultra mobile PCs'. Participating newspapers are De Volkskrant (national daily), Financieele Dagblad (Financial daily), SP!TS (free tabloid), Eindhovens Dagblad en Barneveldse Krant (regional dailies). The coordination is with the research institute EC/DC, while the (Flemish) research institute IBBT, partner in De Tijd experiment, joins in for setting up of user tests of the prototypes which will be developed in a joint design studio. A substantial part of the project budget comes from the Dutch Bedrijfsfonds, a newspaper development fund.

Blog Posting Number: 1258

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