US Navy creates ultra-secure e-reader for reading Jane Austen in a submarine

  • @jjvincent

You might not have to worry about fuel on a nuclear-powered submarine but space certainly comes at a premium.

For this reasons it seems like a no-brainer for the US Navy to replace chunky paperbacks with a sleek e-reader but until now the likes of the Amazon Kindle of the Apple iPad have all been considered too much of a security risk.

Smartphones and tablets are both banned by the Navy in submarines as anything with a camera and an internet connection could easily be hacked to snap pictures from inside a sub. Instead, the Americans have created their own e-ink gadget: The Navy eReader Device – or “NeRD” for short.

Unlike other e-readers the NeRD has no cellular connectivity, no Wi-Fi, and no way to add or delete content from its preloaded library of 300 books.

"What would be considered limiting [for] the technology is actually perfecting the device for its designated audience," makers Findaway World told tech site The Verge.

385 NeRDs will be given to the Navy.

The NeRDs will come with a mix of fiction, non-fiction, classics and historical texts, including popular series such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Game of Thrones  as well as sci-fi titles such as Ender’s Game – a 1985 classic that was recently made into a Hollywood blockbuster but is famous for its inclusion on the Marine Corps’ official reading list alongside the likes of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

The great tomes of Western literature are also well represented, with a selection of Shakespeare’s plays, novels by Jane Austen and James Joyce also included. Poets even get a look in with both Walt Whitman and Samuel Taylor Coleridge making the cut.

"Since we have the digital product available while Sailors are on shore, we wanted to find a way to get digital accessibility while sailors are on ships," Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the US Navy's library program, told The Verge.

"They can keep 300 books, that would have taken up their entire library locker, in their sailors' pockets now."