Bill Gates' New Idea Would Bring Textbooks to Life

Proposed tech automatically generates video from text
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2013 12:04 PM CDT
Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.   (AP Photo/Rod McGuirk)
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(Newser) – Bill Gates—and nine others—have filed a patent for an idea that promises to make "dry" textbooks less boring. "Autogenerating Video From Text" proposes to do exactly what it says on the label: a device or program that can read and analyze text, then automatically generate video and images based on what's written. The idea—most likely the result of a brainstorming session by invention company Intellectual Ventures, predicts Geek Wire—is pitched thusly:

  • "According to one contemplated scenario, a student is assigned a reading assignment. To make the assignment more interesting, the student may use his or her mobile phone to take a picture of a page of the textbook. The systems and methods described herein may then generate a synthesized image sequence of the action occurring in the text. Thus, rather than simply reading names and dates, the student may see soldiers running across a battlefield."
Users would also be able to personalize the program. So, in one scenario proposed in the patent, a student studying Shakespeare could watch a scene played out with their family members in place of the normal characters. (Read more textbooks stories.)

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