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Prior art? The concept behind Google’s e-book patent application will sound familiar to many parents.

Are you ready to add another of the human senses to your reading experience? Google has been working on a way to use “trigger points” in electronic books to deliver sound effects that would accompany and enhance the storyline. The method is described in a newly surfaced patent application from the company.

The application is based on the notion that “eBooks and eBook readers do not take full advantage of their capabilities to immerse a user,” the filing says. “For example, eBook readers often include sound generation capabilities, but eBooks do not use these capabilities to improve the user’s experience.”

The system embeds trigger points in e-books and then alerts a server to deliver an appropriate sound effect when the reader reaches that point of the story.

Whether or not Google’s approach is unique is for the patent examiner to decide, but the overall concept is not new. For example, a startup called Booktrack, which last year raised $2 million from investors including Peter Thiel, specializes in soundtracks and sound effects for e-books. And of course there are plenty of examples of this from the analog world, as parents of young children will attest. (Example above.)

At the very least, this concept seems more realistic than the plan by Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold to automatically generate video clips from random selections of text, even though the two patent applications were originally filed around the same time in early 2012.

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