Scientists develop super-fast book scanner

March 18, 2010 | 13:21

Tags: #scanner

Companies: #university-of-tokyo

Japanese inventors have come up with a scanner capable of non-destructively digitising a 200-page book in just one minute.

The robotic device - revealed over IEEE Spectrum - is the brainchild of a team lead by Masatoshi Ishikawa, professor of robotics at the University of Tokyo. Using what Ishikawa refers to as a "super vision chip" capable of detecting details that occur far too rapidly for the human eye to see, the scanner is the first of many planned projects to use the chip.

The scanner - which was created by lab members Takashi Nakashima and Yoshihiro Watanabe - allows you to flip the pages of a book in front of a high-speed 500 FPS camera digitising at 1280x1024. Owing to the process used to rapidly flip the pages, the image is curved and distorted - which is then corrected for with a second pass using a grid of laser light to calculate exactly how to modify the image to get a flat, distortion-free version.

While the technology is currently something of a curiosity - taking up, as it does, a large bench - the team hopes that a version of their device could one day find its way into laptops and smartphones, allowing users to digitise printed media on the go.

A video of the scanner in action is available over on YouTube.

The team is also looking to use the same 'super vision' technology to create microscopes capable of tracking individual bacteria and a full-body sensor system for computer games - similar to Microsoft's Project Natal, but even more detailed.

Are you impressed with the speed at which the device can scan books, or are you struggling to see legitimate uses for a technology which allows you to quickly and easily copy printed works? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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