Blio e-reader software hands-on (Update: video!)

We don't need to tell you that we can't go a step at CES without seeing a new e-reader device (see Spring Alex, Sprint Skiff, and Copia Ocean), but here comes along knfb's Blio with Mac and PC compatible software saying you don't need new fancy hardware to read the the printed page on a screen....or may be you do. Regardless, of where the Blio software ends up we really dig it and it approaches digital reading in a whole new way. In case you didn't know the Blio software aims to preserve the traditional book or magazine format by keeping its layout, fonts, images, but also to meld it with digital interactivity. Sounds kind of confusing, but we got a sneak peak today of the PC software (in Microsoft's Booth...perhaps, not a coincidence. Hmm...Courier?) Hit the break for impressions and full PR. Video is on the way.

Update: Video is up, after the break.

The software, which was running on a Windows 7 HP Pavilion laptop, had a nice looking UI and the home page is a grid of all the books or other reading materials you've bought (Blio will have access to 1.2 million titles at launch). The real beauty of the application comes though when you select a book and start to page through it. The 3D mode is pretty snazzy and as you slide through the pages it simulates real page turns. If that sort of thing isn't your cup of tea, you can use the regular mode to move to the next page. Blio has other neat tricks up its sleeve, like a read-aloud feature; content providers could preload books with different audio associated with specific text in a book. You can imagine the applications for a children's book or novel.

Blio says its working on software for other platforms, and we did get a sneak peak at its iPhone application, which works very similarly with a full book reading experience. The software will be available for download in February for that very sweet price of free.

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CEO Ray Kurzweil Unveils Game-Changing eReader That Delivers Full Color, Multimedia Functionality Across Various Platforms

Blio to offer more than 1.2 million titles, including current best sellers for the most comprehensive selection in the eReader market

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Digital book technology took a major leap forward today at the Consumer Electronics Show when knfb Reading Technology Inc. unveiled Blio, the free eReader that promises to transform the consumption of printed media while delivering access to the most comprehensive selection of eBook titles to date.

Blio is the first eReader to preserve the image-rich format of books and magazines, including their layout, typesetting, images, color and graphics, while also supporting full media functionality, including video, graphics, and web links.

The Blio software application will be available for desktop and tablet PCs, netbooks, and mobile devices, including iPhones and iPods. Blio will be available for download at in late January 2010.

"Blio is without peer when it comes to the reader experience," said knfb Founder and voice-recognition inventor Ray Kurzweil. "eBooks should be more than digital copies of a printed page. But the e-readers on the market today have been stuck in neutral and don't offer the reader or the publisher what they want or need. So we moved the experience from the boring 16 shades of grey text to an exciting level. And we do it without adding another costly piece of hardware to lug around."

A read-aloud feature provides further distinction from other eReaders. A synthesized voice synchronizes with follow-along word highlighting, so the consumer can look and listen in tandem, an important consideration and attractive feature for travelers, language learners, young children and the vision impaired.

Downloading and syncing books
Through a partnership with Baker & Taylor, the world's largest distributor of physical and digital books, Blio offers a library of more than 1.2 million titles across genres. Blio's full-color, graphical book display technology -- a watershed in the eReader industry -- allows for a comprehensive catalog of image-rich titles, unparalleled in today's market.

Purchased books are stored in a personal virtual library, giving consumers limitless access to their downloaded content. This library seamlessly migrates from one device to another, allowing readers to begin a book on a home PC, then pick up where they left off on a mobile device.

"With our cutting-edge, 3D book technology, Baker & Taylor's market leadership and the vast collection of online books that we have jointly collected from the world's leading publishers, we believe we have the key to transform the book industry," Kurzweil said.

Blio offers a large selection of books that otherwise don't translate well into eContent: including cookbooks, travel guides, how-to books, schoolbooks and children's stories. Blio's capabilities have captured the interest of hundreds of top publishers, who are partnering with Blio to dramatically grow the consumer's choice of titles.

"knfb Reading Technology's innovative approach is second to none, and Blio certainly will make waves in the industry. We're thrilled to help make that happen," said Tom Morgan, Chairman and CEO of Baker & Taylor.

Interactive reading tools
Blio's active reading tools deepen comprehension, adding dimensionality to a user's reading. Highlighting, underlining and annotating help emphasize information and let the user review important points later. Blio's rich feature set allows the consumer to:

* Create a personalized list of reference websites, for one-touch look-up of highlighted phrases
* Adjust reading speed, and font size
* Translate to or from English in an embedded translation window
* Insert and save text, drawing, voice, image or video notes directly into your content, and then export to create lists or study materials

About knfb Reading Technology
knfb Reading Technology, Inc., is a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies, headed by CEO Ray Kurzweil, a 30-year innovator and pioneer in assistive technologies and the inventor of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind; and the National Federation of the Blind, the largest, most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States.

Kurzweil Technologies

Kurzweil Technologies, Inc. (KTI) is a research and development company developing and marketing technologies in pattern recognition, artificial intelligence, evolutionary algorithms, signal processing, simulation of natural processes, and related areas. The principals of KTI have founded, developed, and sold four successful companies in artificial intelligence technologies. Kurzweil "firsts" include the first omni-font optical character recognition (OCR), the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the sounds of the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, the first commercially marketed large vocabulary speech recognition, and others.