September 10, 2010

New Scanner Digitizes A Book A Minute

On Friday, Japanese researchers said they have developed technology to scan a book as a person flips through it.

The chief researcher of the team at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology said the prototype ultra-speed scanner capable of digitizing a book in one minute would be built within a couple years.

The "book-flipping scanning" system enables a camera to take up to 500 photographs per second, recording about 170 book pages in 60 seconds as a person thumbs through them.

The system adjusts for the distortion caused by the curvature of the moving pages by measuring their 3D forms using infrared beams so images can be electronically "flattened" to look like the original.

"We believe this is the world's fastest (scanning) system as far as the technologies already published are concerned," said Yoshihiro Watanabe, who leads the research team.

"We are considering using robots to turn the pages automatically and more neatly," he told AFP by telephone.

Japan's Dai Nippon Printing teamed up with the university researchers this month to put the technology to practical use, with the goal of building a prototype scanner within two years.

Watanabe told AFP the technology to capture the 3D images so quickly could be used in a variety of applications from robotics of industrial and automotive design.

The technology could be used for quality control of industrial products, he told AFP. "You would just scan products that come out of manufacturing lines," he added.

"It could also be used to develop a safer and more comfortable driving system. If mounted on a car, this could take 3-D images of obstacles ahead or dents and bumps in the road to avoid them."

"If loaded into the eyes of robots, they would be able to move much faster than humans."


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