4DigitalBooks launches digital book scanner

Thursday 29 November 2001

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Switzerland-based company 4DigitalBooks has produced the worlds first automatic digitising system for books, which can turn, scan and archive 900 book pages an hour

Switzerland-based company 4DigitalBooks has produced the worlds first automatic digitising system for books, which can turn, scan and archive 900 book pages an hour.

The machine, which took two years to develop, can open book sizes from A6 to A2 and can handle mixed paper thickness and texture.

Danick Bionda, the co-founder of 4DigitalBooks, said: "We are targeting libraries, big institutions like the UN, publishers and collectors, but it is also suitable to store newspapers."

The book is held in a cradle, and photographed by a digital camera some 30cm above. The image is then fed to software, which compensates for the curvature of the spine and stores the information.

"Its nothing like a flatbed scanner. The camera gives a large and deep resolution and feeds the image to some optical character recognition software," said Bionda.

"The data can then be stored on CD-ROM or kept on a server and can also be fully searched."

Texts can be scanned and stored in colour or black-and-white.
Bionda said the advantage of the 4DigitalBooks system was that the books did not have to be dissected before being scanned.

Pages are turned using low-pressure air hoses and monitored by lasers, which measure page thickness and operate as a two-sheet detector.

The company has just completed its first installation at Stanford University in California, which will use the scanner to digitise its library, including its collection of rare books.

Story by John Davies

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