The Kno: A giant double-screen tablet to replace giant textbooks
By Paul Ridden
June 11, 2010
Huge, heavy reference tomes are still a major part of modern study and research. If you've ever wished that those textbooks in front of you could come to life and offer a more engaging experience than just reading through reams of text, then the Kno could be what you're looking for. Weighing in at 5.5 pounds, the dual-screen electronic textbook will offer students access to a wealth of published educational material as well as wireless access to the internet and multimedia content such as high definition video. Just like with its paper cousin, the Kno will also allow for note-taking, highlighting and bookmarking.
At the start of the development process, the creators of the Kno wondered why digital textbook technology was slow to enter the seat of learning. In talking to students, they discovered that although convenient, digital readers didn't offer the kind of tactile and visual interaction that physical books did. Simple things like the ability to see two large pages at once, annotate and highlight or leave sticky notes on important passages or even placing a finger at a particular part of the text whilst looking up something else, were all lacking to varying degrees in electronic text readers.
Originally to be called the Kakai, the Kno will feature two connected 14.1 inch 1440 x 900 anti-glare capacitive touchscreen displays connected via a flexible hinge, running on a Linux embedded browser-based platform and powered by NVIDIA's Tegra T20 architecture. There'll be 16GB of onboard storage and battery life is said to last a full day of active campus use (around six to eight hours).
This configuration is geared towards providing students with a textbook-like page display rendering "the complex layouts designed by authors" without the need for scrolling, but also lends itself to the creation of completely new educational tools. To this end, the company has arranged a beta program with four higher education publishers, including McGraw-Hill Education, to provide select content for upcoming trials in major U.S. universities and colleges.
The Kno will support multiple e-Reader formats of course as well as popular document types such as PDF and cater for highlighting, bookmarking and note-taking. WiFi and Bluetooth wireless connectivity add potential for cloud-based study, immediate reference checking and high definition multimedia interactivity too.
For example, users encountering an unknown word, phrase or concept would currently either seek out another reference text or boot up a portable computer to search the internet. With the Kno, all that's taken care of with the one device. As the company puts it, the device: "blends textbooks, course material, note-taking, web access, educational applications, digital media, sharing and more into a more powerful and engaging educational experience."
Further information on the Kno will be revealed when the device enters the student beta program later in the summer, which is also when pricing will be confirmed.
The following video overview offers a visual guide to most of the features expected to be on offer: