The Amazon Kindle Fire tablet became official today, but a stand-out feature that CEO Jeff Bezos demoed on the $99 Kindle Touch eReader deserves some attention too. The feature is called X-Ray, and it builds on the Kindle’s reputation for solid integration of reference tools, namely a way to look up outside information that doesn’t completely disturb the eReading experience.
Here’s how it works. While reading through a novel on Kindle (we assume it will appear on all Kindle readers, not just the Touch), users can touch a word to launch either a dictionary definition or a more in-depth explanation from Wikipedia. During his demo at today’s Amazon press event, Bezos explored the X-Ray feature by looking up “Versailles Treaty” in the novel Remains of the Day. Immediately after he tapped the highlighted text, a floating window appeared above the book copy and displayed copy explaining that the Treaty of Versailles was made at the end of World War I.
While many eReaders link directly to web-based reference libraries, Amazon’s solution is different. As Bezos explains in the video below, X-Ray does not connect to the internet to retrieve information at Wikipedia.com. Instead, every book purchase will now include a small file pre-loaded with relevant Wikipedia content (and other information). When users look up outside information, that additional file is accessed, not the Internet. Check out the video below for more details.