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The Future Of Scanning Physical Books? This Robot Can “Read” 250 Pages A Minute
December 19, 2012
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Over the last few years, a lot of work has gone into digitally scanning printed books, both as a way of preserving their contents and to make them available to a wider audience online.

As of March this year, Google had scanned more than 20 million works for their Google Books project. And other initiatives, like Project Gutenberg (the oldest digital library) and the Million Book Project, are also working on creating digital copies of printed works.

But a lot of those efforts have faced trouble: scanning large numbers of printed works requires either a whole lot of time or a whole lot of destroyed books.

The cheapest and fastest method of scanning a book is to tear it apart and feed the pages through a scanner.

Other methods have traditionally involved a person standing by to turn pages. It takes a long time, and it's no fun for the person.

Well, it looks like there's a new solution on the horizon. The BFS-Auto book scanning robot was created by the University of Tokyo's Ishikawa Oku Laboratory, and it's set to hit the market in 2013.

The BFS-Auto (it stands for "Book Flipping Scanning") can scan 250 pages per minute, it turns the pages itself, and it causes no damage to books. The machine uses 3D sensing technology to figure out the optimum moment to take a photograph of each page.

It's also programmed to automatically convert a shot of a curved page into a flat image for easy digital reading - Google patented a similar technology back in 2009.


There's no word yet on how much the BFS-Auto will cost. But judging by the high-tech features, you probably won't be able to get one for your home library.

Still, it should help accelerate the rate at which some organizations are able to digitize their book collections, while leaving the books it scans unscathed. This may be good news for the long-term preservation of the printed word.


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