Taipei – A new handheld device enables users to have access to millions of Wikipedia articles while they are on the move. The WikiReader, developed by Openmoko, is a palm-sized touch-screen electronic encyclopedia that offers users ‘the ability to enjoy those unexpected moments when curiosity strikes’, the makers say. The gadget retails for $99 (£62, €66 at current exchange rates).
The WikiReader contains the more than 3m English-language articles on Wikipedia so readers may browse at their leisure, without the need for a wifi signal. Quarterly updates may be downloaded for free, or users may sign up to a $29 yearly subscription plan for updated microSD cards.
‘The key is keeping it simple,’ says WikiReader designer Thomas Meyerhoffer. ‘We really wanted the focus to be on the experience of reading Wikipedia, not browsing the web. That’s why we only have three buttons. There really is no interface. Just straight into the content.’
‘It could also be one viable approach to share the world’s most comprehensive encyclopedia with people who aren’t connected,’ says Erik Möller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to encouraging the development and distribution of free content. ‘We will watch the continuing development of this device with great interest, as it’s fully in the spirit of what Wikipedia is all about: empowering people.’