The Robotic Book Scanner from Qidenus uses a series of technology to automatically turn the pages of a book and scan its contents into digital media. The product is currently used mainly by large university libraries, book archives, and companies, but lower-end products will soon come to market that will make the technology more accessible. (Source: Qidenus)
I love the idea of this technology, especially since it preserves the integrity of the original books. Now imagine having one in your home so you can load up your hard copies on your Kindle or iPad? That technology is not quite ready for prime time and likely will take a bit of licensing of hardware, software and copyrights before it is, but I look forward to it.
Having used an e-reader for several years I am well aware of the chaos in the publishing industry as all the involved parties try to get what they consider to be their fair share of the proceeds. If one library digitizes a book, it is unlikely they will be allowed to lend that digitized books to another librarie without charging a fee and giving some of that fee to the publisher. According to some published data, e-books are outselling paper books by a large margin and the large retail sellers of e-books have already had to offer their buyers rebates as a result of class-action lawsuits. The device in the article and others like it are a boon to archivists, researchers and readers but a curse to the publishers.
Thank you for calling to my attention your company, Markus. It's hard to mention every single competitor to a product when writing a story but now that I know about ScanRobot I will do a bit more research and keep your company in mind for future stories on this topic.
Interesting application of robotics. I am familiar with systems that scan large number of documents such as legal files and corporate documents. Wonder if Google will get a few of these to speed up its process of electronic capture of literature in the public domain, and excerpts of more modern publications.
Turning pages is indeed a challenge. I was involved with some of the same problems with document feeders for copiers many years ago. One of the cleverest, best and most gentle approaches I saw at the time was from 3M. They had a "page picker" that used a "sticky finger". The finger had a special (3M, of course) tape that indexed across its head that was just sticky enough to gently pick up the page but would release it (with no residue) with very gentle pressure. I saw it on one production copier and then never saw it again. It was a great example of "out of the box" thinking and very gentle.
Yes, the trick to turning pages does seem to be in a robotic finger sensitive enough to turn a page without damaging it, especially when it comes to books printed on old or fragile paper. Qidenus seems to have come up with innovative technology for this, and as sensors and technology become even more sophisticated, I'm sure there will be further developments in this space.
Another invention with a clear benefit to many of us, indeed. BUT it will probably not signal the end of the printed book, but rather the much improved availability. And it is certainly true that turning pages is not a trivial task, not only because some texts are quite frail, but also because in many instances pages stick to each other. That is the second challenge.
A descriptive analysis of this product would be a good topic for an article in an engineering publication such as Design News. Knowing how other folks solved a problem makes the rest of us better design engineers. It really does.
William, I agree that the printed book will live on for the time being...but who knows down the road? I myself am an avid reader and literature geek, and while I have an e-reader that I use on my iPad (iBooks)--and find it incredibly handy--I still buy printed books as well. Until all the licesning issues are hammered out (and the generations that grew up without the Internet are still alive), I think there will be printed books. But somewhere in perhaps the not-so-distant future the printed book may go the way of the dinosaur or become the domain of collectors, just like vinyl records, tapes and CDs did when digital music became all the rage.
What I would like to see is an e-reaer that I can drop 5 feet and have it keep on working, and accidently step on it a few times without doing any damage. Possibly some of those built for the military organizations may be that tough, but the prices for the tough ones will probably also be tough. And, are there any waterproof e-readers? Not just splash resistant, but ones that don't fail after sinking to the bottom of the pool?
So true about the printed books, Elizabeth. I tend to stick with those for most everything but reference (where a search feature is useful). Not a fan of e-books for personal reading. You just can't do as much because your bound up with licensing rather than ownership. With a paper book, I can do whatever I want except actually copy it. I can loan it to a friend for whatever time period I want, I can give it to somebody, donate to the local library, or put it in a box knowing full well that I can read it in 20 year...or somebody else can after I'm long gone. Not so with the ebooks.