A Reading Room of the future

LaTrobe Reading Room - Melbourne

What if we had the option of enhancing our reading space?

Imagine a personal reading room where the environment changed, enhancing and exaggerating the experience of reading?

Reading on Apple Books or a Kindle, during a tense moment in the book subtle atmos emerges from your smart speaker.

As the protagonist approaches a tense moment, your connected thermostat turns to 15 degrees at high fan speed, literally chilling you as you read.

As you turn the page and read the words, eye tracking notices you have read a key phrase, a tense moment that requires full concentration. At that moment, the lights gently dim, background noise stops and your universe shrinks to that phrase on the page.

LaTrobe Reading Room - Melbourne

All the while, your heartbeat and breathing is being monitored, providing the author tracking feedback as to the most emotive and reactive moments in the book. Maybe even suggesting changes to your reading list or books you might enjoy reading in the future depending on your physiological reaction and similar reactions across the reading population.

It may also know that you are a person that suffers concentration lapses after 50 or so minutes, so offers specific “break points” in the book where it pre-emptively suggests making a cup of tea or taking a quick toilet break at appropriate moments in the book.

To some, this might be dystopian. The idea of a machine sucking up data and using artificial intelligence to constantly change your environment in realtime might be unwelcome. It may be overwhelming and detract from the book itself; after all, reading is magical, exploring universes that come to life in our cerebral cortexes. I’m not suggesting we need to enhance the timeless simplicity of words on a page. Nor am I suggesting ice machines and a Hans Zimmer score trumpeting over our speakers when we reach a key passage.

But if done subtly, if done with nuance and elegance, an intelligent, adaptive reading environment could be spectacular.

Constantine Frantzeskos

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