Monday, June 22, 2009

Book Scanning

It's no big news that Google does some really cool stuff - be it getting goats to graze on their lawns instead of using a lawn-mower or rigging up some kind of infra-red contraption to scan books without opening them. While most of us may not be able to get goats to graze in our backyards, we would all find plenty of use for a portable camera book scanner.

First it was e-publishing and Kindle that was threatening the survival of the old fashioned book but with such a device, every customer browsing in a bookstore could mean lost revenue instead of a potential sale. Yet in every innovation that promises to be the death of the old way, there is often hidden opportunity waiting to be discovered and monetized. Inside a book-scanner there may be ways to generate buzz for goods and services relevant to text being scanned - and that is just the most obvious idea. It would only be a matter of time before much better ones came along.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, except you've managed to extrapolate a whole new bad situation for traditional bookshops from a couple of false assumptions

1/ this device allows you to "scan books without opening them". It doesn't. The book still has to be opened and the pages turned. What the invention does is save you from having to choose between ruining a potentially fragile historical document by mashing it flat onto the face of a flatbed scanner, undoing the binding and putting it through a sheet-fed document scanner, running a (rare, nowadays) handheld device over it and potentially damaging the page surface, or just photographing it and getting a very poor copy out because of the differences in focus and the curvature (and creasing?) of the page. They use a pair of cameras, and a known pattern projected by the infra-red device, to reconstruct a virtual 3D copy of the page then flatten it out in software. You'd have at least as much trouble using such a system in a store as just standing there with a phone camera flicking through to get that selfsame low quality version as this corrects for.

2/ That they have any intent or ability to make a compact, consumer version of a currently quite specialist-purpose and bulky device, which wasn't mentioned anywhere. It may happen, as it has to some things such as computers and video recorders... or it may not, as it hasn't for radiotherapy machines or full-feature weather stations.

... but thanks for the links, anyway ;-p