Companies file for new patents all the time with nothing ever coming of it, so Google's application shouldn't be taken as evidence that such a device is coming down the pipeline. Nevertheless, some concepts are just plain cool. Google has designed a computing device with dual e-ink displays that folds as though it were an actual book, according to a patent application that the US Patent and Trademark Office recently published.


E-ink displays do an admirable job replicating the look of a physical page, but the shape of the e-readers they're attached to ruin the illusion. This proposed form-factor does more to imitate the traditional reading experience. Even better, the patent application also includes a camera that could monitor your eyes to see which screen you're looking at and whether the device should refresh the content on the other display.


Imagine this device with Play Books integration. Currently, people who want to read Google Books on a e-ink display typically have to jump through hoops to get them installed on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or Sony readers that all tie into different marketplaces. This hypothetical product could remove that hassle.

But for now, it remains just that - hypothetical. Though the Patent and Trademark office published the application yesterday, Google applied back at the end of 2011. For context, that's around the same time the company released Ice Cream Sandwich. A lot of products have come out since then, but not something with a dual e-ink display. For now, avid readers, this remains little more than a dream.

Source: PatentBolt

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • http://k3rnel.net Juan Rodriguez

    Looks clunky. Hinges break, while "single screen" devices are a lot more solid and durable.
    I really don't see a point to a dual screen eInk display. Its not like you can read 2 pages at once. :-/

    • Jonathan Berry

      2 pages could help eliminate the potentially jarring page refresh of e-Ink displays. While you are reading one page, the other can go ahead and refresh to the next page. It's an interesting concept at least.

  • Thomas’

    Having two screens is actually just a skeuomorphism and not really useful anymore.

    • Mikey

      Actually if you could have a different book or app etc open on each screen it could be very useful.

      There's a reason people like multiple screens.

    • Steamroller

      Foldable dual screens are useful since you don't need additional accessory to protect your screen.

  • Peacen1k

    Significant weight increase and potentially structurally weak hinges for really debatable advantages.

    How about Google just build a better single screen e-reader? With better software, etc?

  • Alex

    A bit like an e-ink Microsoft Courier? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmIgNfp-MdI

    Looking back at that video, you can see where some of the Galaxy Note features got their influence!

    • rpitera

      Beat me to it. I was going to mention this as well. But the difference is the Google is actually crazy/open/daring enough build it.

    • Matthew Fry

      I was so sad when this got canned in favor of the surface. This was going to make me a Microsoft device fanboy. *sigh*

      • http://www.ellianth.com Ellianth

        It didn't get canned in favor of the surface; it got canned, period. Then there happened to be a surface.

        I was heartbroken when they canned it too though. EVERYONE was excited for this thing. I imagine the logic went something like this:
        would this sell?
        Therefore -> Cancel.

        • E

          Last time I spoke with a MS Designer who worked on that project he said they were all working on Surface after it got canned. Not saying that you are wrong, but they all went to work on Surface... ;)

          • E

            Except the ones going to create Paper of course.

    • http://404err0r.com/ Henry Park

      Closest to this we ever got was Acer's Dual Screen laptop which wasn't even close to this but it was cool

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/pamela-hill/ Pamela Hill

    I don't know...I haven't read on my eReader, since I got my N7. I like it much better. I don't need an additional screen. But it might sway those who still read physical books...

    • Chris

      Same. The Nexus 7 is a great size, higher resolution, easier to use/navigate and works faster than an ereader, but the LCD is harder on your eyes (and the battery, too). I think a dual screen would be cool for a cheap device like the Nexus 7, or at least just have one specific Nexus/Android ereader device.

  • Nick Cannon

    One screen for reading, another for the web.

    • Matthew Fry

      Or a dictionary. Or an encyclopedia. Or the table of contents. Or bibliography/footnotes. Or make the second screen full color and use it for images in picture books/reference materials. Or give it a digitizer for writing annotations. There are lots of cool applications to having two pages in front of you.

  • Ahmad Nadeem

    It is a really cool concept. It would be even better if we can detach the displays and use them separately as well, but that's just wishful thinking

  • brnpttmn

    Is there any cheapish e-ink reader that syncs well with Google Play Books? I have a Nook Simple Touch rooted and hacked to run an older version, but it's terribly inconsistent with basic function like actually loading books.Only about 1/5th of the books actually load with any consistency. Google should really just release a simple sub-$100 6 inch e-reader with access to Google Books, Music, and Newsstand (and maybe google now).

    • Chris

      You can download all your google play books and just put them on any other device..

  • Matthew Fry

    The moment that I learned about e-ink, my first thought was a multi-page type of device. Like, I don't know, 10 pages of front/back e-ink displays that could be turned and wrapped around. You'd get the feeling of progress in the book and could hold it like a book.

  • ins0mn1a

    until there is an e-ink-like screen (reflective, i mean) with color and high refresh rate, e-readers will be useless for reading anything but novels. i mean, have you ever tried to read a textbook, a technical manual, a tourist guide, or a magazine on an e-reader? so here a message to the people making mirasol or pixel qi or some such screens: hurry up guys! it seems though that those things are very difficult to make, otherwise they would already be here.

    also, i don't think we need two screens (though i can see some limited use for those), we need better reading apps and perhaps smarter file formats. to better provide context, to make navigation, search, annotations easy and seamless, to make use of all the information that is out there. why would we want to emulate paper book experience? that way we are just putting an emphasis on the only downside of a digital book (it's not a physical object) and we are downplaying all of its advantages (all the stuff one could do with a digital object if only they would stop treating it like it was made of paper).

    • Sarah Login

      I read comics and manga on my kindle all the time. It takes about 2 mins to convert the .cbr/.cbz to a .pdf but after that its no problem.

      • ins0mn1a

        so you find it ok to be panning around, waiting forever for a pdf page to move or zoom in or out (or you somehow manage to format it so that the comic book page fits kindle size exactly and doesn't need to be panned or zoomed in)? you don't miss color? even so, a comic is still a (graphic) novel of a sort, meaning it's read in a linear way, no need to jump back and forth, skip, search etc (like when a book is for learning or research).

        i know all this is doable, i myself traveled for many months using kindle for travel guide books (this was in the era just before tablets... the horror! ;), but exactly because of all that experience, i claim that reading anything non-linear on a kindle is a major pain in the ass.

  • Gav456

    But how could Google overcome the "fragmentation" issues with a device like this? Won't anyone think of the fragmentation!? Aaargh!!

  • didibus

    Patents that simply double something are so dumb. I'm sure someone has a bunch of these, take any patent, double it! Patent a dual wifi antenna! Patent a dual screen! Patent a dual speaker! Patent a dual touch input! Patent a dual gpu! Patent a dual battery!

    Queue in the patents that triple things...

  • Sergii Pylypenko

    Didn't Sony release a folding tablet back then?

  • Deeco

    I don't know why, but I quite like this concept.

  • Riaz Ahmed

    good idea. google is doing alot these days. But keep your eye out for other stuff too like this cool music making app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=appinventor.ai_riazfir.SmartSounds