It seems that Bill Gates has decided to wage war on boring old textbooks with a patent that describes automatically creating videos and images by analysing text.
In the patent, Gates and his partners, including Nathan Myhrvold, who with Gates previously submitted an idea to suppress hurricanes, outline their desire to combat the ‘notorious’ ‘dry presentation of material’ in school textbooks. The patent cites the inclusion of images in textbooks in order to ‘maintain [students ’] interest[s]’, as well as the benefit of images in assisting those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and attention deficit disorder.
Giving examples such as famous figures, periods of history and adaptations (the patent suggests that Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew bring up information on the 1948 film Kiss Me Kate) that could provide extra contextual links, the patent also outlines the ability to read stage actions and theoretically “perform” any written scenes.
The patent was filed back in January of last year, but was only made public last month. How effective the software will be in retaining, organising and displaying large amounts of data remains to be seen, but if successful, the idea could spell the end for traditional books.