The Internet of Things (IoT) is, according to Wikipedia, the network of physical objects – devices, vehicles, buildings and other items – embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The popular example is the concept of a smart fridge that could warn you when it was out of milk.
Yesterday, we spotted a tweet mentioning SeeNote, a digital version of the sticky notes people use around the house and office.
This eink display is exactly what i want: https://t.co/C6xQ8R9U6t
Excited to get one! pic.twitter.com/6VC7FKP1J9
— harper (@harper) April 26, 2016
This got us wondering if it were possible to create a digital user guide that could be:
- Stuck on the wall (or the fridge door)
- Have a screen that was always on
- Automatically update itself
- Notify you when there was new information
- Run without mains power for approximately a month between charges.
The SeeNote is a little too small for that purpose, so could another e-ink device, such as an ebook reader, be configured to work in this way?
We fished out a basic £40 Kindle ebook reader from the cupboard, to see its the web browser could display real-time updates. The Kindle’s web browser is called an experimental browser for a reason – unfortunately, it crashed on the bbc.co.uk live updates of a football match. It was more resilient when it displayed the time from the liveclock.com website.
According to the-ebook-reader.com, Amazon has gone to great lengths to block any kind of hacking to the Kindle Voyage, the current entry-level Kindle and the Kindle Paperwhite 2.
If you have an older Kindle, another approach would be replace the wallpaper that appears when you turn on a Kindle. Pablo Jiménez Mateo as described how to display time, date, weather, and tasks as a Kindle wallpaper. Again, you need a computer to act as the server to generate a vector graphic, which is used as the Kindle screensaver.
Alternatively, you could explore using another brand of ebook reader.
Does anyone need this?
There were a few use cases we could think of. One was to have them on the door of meeting rooms, to provide information on room bookings, how to use the equipment in the room, and any contact numbers. Another was to place one next to machinery, providing information on how to use the equipment and the daily work schedule.
Of course, people could just use their smartphones instead, or you could put a QR code on the door. However, the digital user guide offers ambient findability – if you look, it’s there.
These changes are not without risk – you could potentially “brick” your Kindle and have to restore it to factory settings. However, it does seem possible to create a digital user guide that could be stuck onto your fridge door, meeting room door or office wall.