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Google Engineers Open Source Book Scanner Design

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the your-book-scanner-sucks dept.

Google 69

c0lo writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code. Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the '20 percent time' that Google allocates for personal projects. The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?" Adds reader leighklotz: "The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot. Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."

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Privacy (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991239)

Fuck Google and the horse they road in on. Their spying program is only second to the NSA (of which they probably closely collaborate). I will no longer be your product.

Re:Privacy (1)

lord_rob the only on (859100) | about 2 years ago | (#41992277)

/me thinks you weren't really thinking of the book scanner design when you made that comment ;-).
Note that there's absolutely no relation between Book Scanners and Phone Design.

Re:Privacy (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#41993007)

They only have to add some feature that stores your scans in the cloud.

Re:Privacy (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41998045)

it's an open design, dumbass. save yourself some time and don't build the spying part.

False economy (4, Insightful)

srussia (884021) | about 2 years ago | (#41991253)

FTFA: For the past eight years, Google has been working on digitizing the worldâ(TM)s 130 million or so unique books.

If these books are truly unique, you're taking a big risk subjecting them to this contraption.

Re:False economy (5, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41991323)

The proper SQL statement would have been "DISTINCT" not a "UNIQUE" index, true.

Re:False economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991325)

Presumably they mean unique as in distinct -- they haven't just scanned 130 million separate copies of Harry Potter.

Re:False economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992807)

Sounds like you have 'distrust of the machine'.

Yes, technology is scary, but most likely they have ironed out the kinks after the first 100 million books.

Re:False economy (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41994417)

You're taking a bigger risk not subjecting them to this contraption.

Re:False economy (2)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41995059)

He addresses that in the talk. Yes, this machine can fold or tear pages. But they talked to an archivist, and he said that scanning the books in this machine was less risky than not scanning them at all. If they're scanned, the information is preserved, backed up, spread around, and is then widely available. Any library book is subject to risk from the patron tearing or damaging the book, yet they still accept the risk of making them available.

Besides, how much worse is the risk of possibly tearing a page as compared to a bulk scanner that saws the binding off the book, then feeds the pages through a sheet feeder? That one is guaranteed damaging.

Re:False economy (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about 2 years ago | (#41995805)

Frankly, I like the idea presented by these guys better:

http://www.diybookscanner.org/ [diybookscanner.org]

The have the book lying down on it's spine and supported in a nice 45-ish angle that prevents too much of a tear. However they use ordinary cameras instead of the scanning tech used in a...well...scanner. Though I believe cameras tend to work faster than a scanner, so I don't see a downside.

Re:False economy (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41996389)

The Google guy mentioned them in the presentation. The primary drawback to the other DIY scanners is manual operation. Setup involves adjusting the lights, the cameras, and the hinge point for the platen; not a big deal. But in operation, the human has to lift the platen, flip the page, set the platen down, trigger the cameras, and then repeat for each page. My understanding is that a person can scan a 500 page book in about 20-30 minutes, so it's of a comparable speed to this new page-turning scanner. But because it doesn't require constant operator handling, a human could keep ten of these machines filled with books.

If you're scanning a private collection of a few hundred books, the manual scanner doesn't seem so bad. But if you're scanning thousands of books in a large collection or library, that's a serious amount of time to invest.

On the other hand, a human will be less likely to damage the books during the page turning process. If you're scanning rare or otherwise valuable books, the manual scanner would still be superior. And a manual scanner has fewer limitations on book size than this automated page turner.

Re:False economy (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about 2 years ago | (#41999513)

I agree with your points, and I saw the video, but I was actually referring to the OP's point about handling delicate books.

DIY's system has the book (which is in fragile condition) down, and very properly secured, and the scanning apparatus (which is more able to take the stress from the constant movement) is the one that moves.

I was actually imagining my dad's big-ass collins dictionary from *his* college time, and comparing the state of that to what I might expect the usual state of affair will be of the books Google scans. Books like that printed in a bundle of reams, and stitched together, and then glued to the hardcover. An old book will have the stitching loose and gaps between the individual reams, and I think the google scanner would sort of *sink* in to that gap and unable to proceed.

Which is why the current system wouldn't work. However, if the position was sort of reversed, with the book being on the bottom, being moved about in a sort of trolley, and the scanner apparatus was sort of suspended above, that would solve a lot of problems.

Re:False economy (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#42001067)

OK, I get what you're saying now. You want to take the mass of the book out of the equation, so that a fragile spine wouldn't be further damaged or even torn in two by the weight of a heavy book straddling a sharp edge, and all the motion of this mechanism. And I agree.

It looks like the high end commercial book scanners are constructed to take that into account too, where the weight of the book is supported by the covers in a cradle, just like the DIY scanners. They use a vacuum mechanism to draw a single page straight up, then scan both sides of it.

I think there's room for both. Most of my books have little intrinsic value, so if I were scanning my collection I'd have no problem risking them in the automated machine. But I have some that are certainly more fragile than others, and those I'd put in the manual scanning pile.

Re:False economy (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about 2 years ago | (#42002427)

Agree with you.

On further thought, I think it would be better if the book stayed still and it was the *scanner* that moved back and forth ( in the scanner-top position I described earlier)

That should eliminate worries about size and weight, since the only weight in question is the scanner itself, rather than the book, and that will remain constant.

Also, I think, errors could be reduced by *slowing* down the process, to further minimise pages caught/stuck/torn, since slower and steadier push will allow for more flexible movement than a sudden sharp jerk; also, given that the process is automated once initiated, and could be done in batches, a further 15 or so minutes wouldn't be *that* big a cost, given the delicate nature of books.

Very Good Wiki Direction (4, Interesting)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#41991283)

I work in the tech recycling business, but we get literally hundreds of tons of books turned in for recycling. It pains me to see most of them go to paper recycling recovery, though there is a growing market for shops that scan barcodes for resale. I would think that Google would have problems with copyright law, as would any single entity who is at risk of scanning the wrong book (i.e. the one someone would take time to sue you for, especially if you have deep google-pockets). This direction opens to small scale "wiki-scanning", which could be really ideal since people who have actually read the book would probably be the best ones to figure out if was worth the time to scan, would tend to prioritize important books (preserving them) and would present a very decentralized system for lawsuits. If I can scan the book for "personal use" like the cassette tape rulings for music, all the better. The problem is the physical space these books take, and its causing a lot of out of print books to get made into cereal boxboard, and the scale at which 50-100 year old out of print books are getting recycled is scary.

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (2)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | about 2 years ago | (#41994105)

If you're scanning to save physical space, you don't need this contraption. Just cut off the back of the book and put the pages in a regular scanner with a sheet feeder. (You can get an excellent one for about $400, including OCR software.)

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#41994921)

What's the best way to cut off the back?

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (1)

charlesj68 (1170655) | about 2 years ago | (#41995081)

A band saw works really well.

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 2 years ago | (#41995203)

They usually use a sheet metal shear. Workshops that deal with sheet metal will often have one of these, and will often let you use them (sometimes for a small fee). Easiest to get free usage of one if you are a cute girl.

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#41996881)

It also makes it possible for blind readers to get a cheaper reader that reads 'normal' books and turns them into speech with e.g.an OCR reader and festival.

Re:Very Good Wiki Direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41998119)

They want you to scan the books for them, they will put them in a database, carefully keeping them secure until they can CRUSH the book companies or lawyer them out of business. Then they will CDDB the database and charge for it.

On the other side. Books really need to be saved. I get so tired of libraries "making room" by throwing out thousands of books a year. They asshat excuse is the information isn't relevant anymore because it was written in say the 50s and no one has checked it out in 10 years. I argue the information is even more relevant because it was written in the time frame that the information was used. It IS a history book, in and of itself even if it wasn't written as such. By keeping old books it keeps revisionist history from encroaching on the world. You may say that the original book was revisionist history which may be true. But by being able to compare old books and referencing them in your life/a paper you become more well rounded. Your papers you publish are better, you become better.

The fact is people are not smarter now, and I could could argue the latter due to the fact that books [haven't been checked out in 10 years]. True knowledge comes from understanding where we came from, not by memorizing sanitized fun facts books are of today which for example, are able to condense the entire 20th century in 1 chapter. On the tech side you get wienies proclaiming, "Look how stupid people were, they used 8MHz processors, blah blah blah." They don't understand how shit works, where it came from, in effect they are fun fact drones who can be swayed by marketing gimmicks.

Harvesting knowledge in case of society collapse (3, Insightful)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41991333)

We know it can happen. Rome fell, Greece fell, Angkor Wat fell, Easter Island collapsed. Societies die just like we do.

It would be a shame to lose all of the knowledge, art, and literature that we have accumulated during our tenure so far.

Scanning books is a good way to archive much of that information for the next society that can develop digital computing. I suggest we enshrine it all in orbit or on the moon, guaranteeing it relative immortality and making it accessible only to those technologically advanced enough to benefit from it.

For all we know, the ancient Khmer civilization at Ankgor Wat [about.com] invented advanced technology, and it's just lost merely to time.

We owe it to future generations to make sure our society does not lose as much when it collapses.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (4, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#41991481)

But stone & clay slabs of the Sumerians and papyrus of the Egyptians survived until today, but the original data feed of the Apollo missions are lost forever because they were thrashed when no one had the equipment to read the old data tapes.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

PybusJ (30549) | about 2 years ago | (#41991849)

I'm not sure you're making a valid comparison. If I choose any particular piece of Egyptian recorded information then there's a good chance that it is destroyed. The fact that some material survived several millennia is both impressive and interesting, but very much material survives from the 60s even if some has been lost.

I mean how many records of the ancient Egyptian space race survive to this day? I rest my case.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991987)

I mean how many records of the ancient Egyptian space race survive to this day?

Like this? [wikipedia.org]

:)

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (2)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 2 years ago | (#41992485)

This wasn't meant as a comparision of better and worse. Just as a set of specific risk for digital archives.

Go and try to read your letters from a 5.25'' floppy disc with your VizaWrite-files from just a few years ago. Wouldn't have happend with paper printouts.
On the other hand, go to a movie archive and see the first cellulose movies lost due to simply rotting away... wouldn't have happened with DVDs
Then again, if there's no DVD player left....

A form of archiving, that needs special knowledge (file formats) or devices (media) adds an additional long term risk. But of course it also greatly reduces other risks. (When the Amalia-library in Weimar burned down a few years ago, lots of invaluable books were destroyed. Google Books could simply restore an offsite backup). It's simply a tradeoff. as always.

And this is in no way a new problem. (Pulling this from the back of my mind, corrections welcome)

The Sumerians used soft clay slabs for rather unimportant, temporary stuff as it could be erased easily. "cultural treasures" like the Gilgamesh epic were stored on valuable parchment. Now guess what survived a series of fires..... Hint: we have tons of shopping lists to work with....

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41993835)

Your paper print outs are likely on shitty, acidic paper. So are my 40-50 year old sci-fi novels and the pages are yellowed and frequently crack if I dare to read them. I dare say your paper print outs have, at best, double the life span of those floppies. The nice thing about digitized data is that it doesn't have to stay in one place, with incremental syncing it can live in a million places, accessible by a wide range of devices. The only thing we need to do is write the "manual", probably on some stone tablets.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#41995139)

Yes, and you CAN print it out. And you CAN print it on good paper...
but what about the inks that you are using? I don't think those will survive very long. And getting better inks that will work with an existing printer is a real problem.

FWIW, I don't really have a much better answer than an improved clay tablet. And preserving anything that way is so expensive that it won't be done...except on a trivial scale. The original CDs were durable things, but that doesn't apply to the ones that you can burn at home. They use phase transition metals, which over time will relax back into the low energy configuration. Pits burned in metal foil and sandwiched between glass are much more durable. But both of those take specific technology to read. And that's pretty much guaranteed not to survive. Black and white (silver process) prints onto glass can be pretty durable, can be written as microfiche (the transfer to glass would occur as a printing process), and sandwich a sheet of glass over the image, so it won't be abraded. That would be pretty durable, fairly dense, and could be read with a decent magnifying glass. But it's not going to be done (again, except on a trivial scale). The equipment to produce the images would be very expensive, and you couldn't sell the results.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41998089)

optical discs are actually made in a near identical process to microfiche.

we could simply etch much much smaller using lasers on current replication hardware. you could probably write a small program that translates text files into an ISO file you could burn yourself that results in a human-readable disc.

hell, i want to try that. that sounds amazing.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#42030411)

IIUC, current consumer CDs and DVDs write using a phase transition process that changes the reflectivity of the metallic layer written upon. Over time this relaxes back into the low energy configuration. It may be good for a decade or two, but I doubt that it's even good over a century.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41995459)

It's not that simple. (Nothing ever is.) Preserving information for the future runs into a lot of issues.

  • The media can degrade over time (plastics degrade and become brittle, adhesives let go, corrosion of moving parts, seizure of old lubricants)
  • The media can be lost (labels fall off, disorganized storage, fire or flood, etc.)
  • The readers are less available (punched paper tape readers, 9 track tape, cassette tape readers, 8" floppy drives, 5-1/4" floppy drives, DAT, Zip drives, etc.) Even CD-ROMs are on the decline as more things migrate to vendor-provided clouds.
  • Newer technology media and readers are more sophisticated and store information in a higher density, making them progressively harder to obtain or rebuild a reader.
  • Media formats are not preserved. Does your floppy drive read FM, MFM, or GCR encoded disks?
  • File systems are not preserved. Was it recorded on a CBMFS, FFS, or a FAT filesystem?
  • Application programs are not carried forward. Could you load a copy of Visicalc? Could your current word processor read a WordStar v2.26 file?
  • Manufacturer induced obsolescence. Does Microsoft have an obligation to support Word 1.0 formatted files anymore? Windows 7 won't run 16-bit Windows apps, so you can't even load up an old copy of Word 1.0 on the modern OS.
  • Cloud vendors go out of business, removing your ability to access the needed programs, or they may get shut down via government action.
  • DRM mechanisms prevent copying (DAT, Macrovision, you-name-it)

It's not enough to just store a copy on your hard drive. That only takes care of a few of the above cases related to the physical media. Previous-generation hardware is one problem, but you also have to have previous generation applications. In 2050, who is going to have a copy of Adobe Reader that can read the old virus-laden v4.0 formatted PDFs? If you want to read that old Word 1.0 file, you would have to have preserved a copy of VirtualBox that works on whatever hardware and OS exists in the future, plus a working installation of Windows 3.1, plus a working installation of Word for Windows 3.1. When you migrate your data, are you going to ensure that you migrate a tested museum environment along with it?

If you're not going to preserve all the needed ancient environment, you have two choices. You can either migrate the data, or you can dispose of it. It's a lot of work. Every generation of technology will require you to make that choice for each piece of your old data. Let's say that it's migration day today, and you decide that you can just copy the Word 2003 file without migrating it, because Word 2010 can read it. Do you know for sure that the next time you need to migrate that file that you will still have a program that can read Word 2003 files then?

And in 2050, will anyone still care?

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

mug funky (910186) | about 2 years ago | (#41998073)

films that old don't necessarily rot. they either get eaten by fungus or burn on their own once exposed to ambient air. Nitrates were not an ideal material for making precious archival materials from...

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

operagost (62405) | about 2 years ago | (#41992779)

This is the survivor bias that leads to conclusions like "they don't make them like they used to," not realizing that the fragile or poorly-constructed crap has largely been destroyed without a trace.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991917)

With all due respect, if 90% of the written material in existence today ceased to exist... the societies of the future might be better off.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (-1, Flamebait)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#41992575)

We know it can happen. Rome fell, Greece fell, Angkor Wat fell, Easter Island collapsed. Societies die just like we do.

It would be a shame to lose all of the knowledge, art, and literature that we have accumulated during our tenure so far.

We got it. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Vagina_Ass_of_Lucifer_Niggerbastard.html?id=XLSPSQAACAAJ [google.com]

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41994275)

We owe it to future generations now to let our society collapse? Why? Besides the obvious, energy. The dates are off, but it's close enough. Around 1900, we could get 100 barrels of oil for every 1 barrel invested. about 1970, that dropped to 30, by 1980, 17. Present day world, for new fields (the old saudi fields still have a high EROEI), its about 3. Everything we've accomplished has been because of a substance we're determined to suck every last drop out of the ground so (mostly) Americans can drive their 1.5+ ton cars from stop light to stop light. The same analogy goes for coal too.

If society collapses, we lose a lot more than just books and knowledge, we'll lose the energy investment we've spent so far to get us were we're at and have little to no low hanging energy fruit to get things jump-started. Is this a worst-case scenario, mostly, but we'll have a hard time getting back to anything we consider modern without replacements that are easier to transition to when you can use oil and coal to help you vs having to start over and re-invent many wheels.

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997721)

... If society collapses, we lose a lot more than just books and knowledge, we'll lose the energy investment we've spent so far to get us were we're at and have little to no low hanging energy fruit to get things jump-started. Is this a worst-case scenario, mostly, but we'll have a hard time getting back to anything we consider modern without replacements that are easier to transition to when you can use oil and coal to help you vs having to start over and re-invent many wheels.

This -- please mod up (no points left)

Re:Harvesting knowledge in case of society collaps (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41994323)

Greece fell,

Oh, come on, Greece is still working on securing more loans, it hasn't fallen yet!

Having looked at the design... (2)

pongo000 (97357) | about 2 years ago | (#41991465)

...I think it's fundamentally flawed in that it would not take much to have a misaligned page sliced right out of the book. Certainly nothing I'd risk a book of any value over. Sorry, this one appears to be a non-starter (although it is rather novel, pun intended).

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

sexybomber (740588) | about 2 years ago | (#41991597)

In that case, you could use one of the manual ones at diybookscanner.com [diybookscanner.com] and turn the pages yourself, trading speed for safety.

Re:Having looked at the design... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992767)

In point of fact, for individual scanning, the video even mentions that this linear scanner is SLOWER than a manual scanner such as the diybookscanner. The gains come in that since its automatic, a single person could keep 8 or 10 of them running at at time.

Theres also sensors included to detect if a page doesnt turn correctly, but they do mention theres still room for improvements. I wouldnt run a $10k book over it, but most books dont fall into that category.

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

leighklotz (192300) | about 2 years ago | (#41994833)

In point of fact, for individual scanning, the video even mentions that this linear scanner is SLOWER than a manual scanner such as the diybookscanner. The gains come in that since its automatic, a single person could keep 8 or 10 of them running at at time.

Yup. Progress in clock speeds has pretty much slowed down, and Google appears to expect future performance enhancements to come in the form of parallelism

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

jab (9153) | about 2 years ago | (#42012971)

Clock speed can be quadrupled by switching to a pipeline architecture. See 24:28 [youtube.com] of the video.

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#41991807)

Because the paper itself is more important than the content?
We need more people in this world who understand value.

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | about 2 years ago | (#41993313)

If I had a truly unique and special book that must not be damaged, and I wanted to digitize it, I'd bite the bullet and do it very carefully by hand (which you could do, over a long enough time scale, with just about any household USB scanner).

If, however, I wanted to digitize the contents of my personal book collection, which is several hundred books none of which couldn't be replaced via Amazon or eBay, this would be good for the job. So it shreds my 20 year old copy of Asimov's Foundation- I'd be a bit cross, but it's not like it's worth much. And there's no way I could scan my entire book collection by hand.

Re:Having looked at the design... (1)

plover (150551) | about 2 years ago | (#41996531)

Just as you wouldn't trust your valuable books to this page-turning scanner, you wouldn't scan those same books with the typical household USB scanner, either. Those scanners generally require the books to be opened 180 degrees and pressed flat in order to get the scanning element close enough to the margins, and that can damage the pages and/or the binding.

The prototypical DIY scanner uses a book rest and platen set at a 90 degree angle, which is safe for most books, and as you're manually turning the pages it's a fairly gentle system that can work on pretty fragile books.

Re:Having looked at the design... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41993735)

The rate of damage to pages is an empirical question and does not necessarily have any relation to your notion of what looks dangerous. It's quite possible that this design could be safer than something that looks safe to you, including manual scanning. You don't know.

The missing link (1)

Trevelyan (535381) | about 2 years ago | (#41991477)

I am guessing that this is the Google TechTalk video that is discussed in the summary, but not linked (or more likely edited out): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JuoOaL11bw [youtube.com]

Re:The missing link (1)

leighklotz (192300) | about 2 years ago | (#41994841)

Yes, it was in my submission but apparently edited for brevity. TL;DW?

slashdot in the good old days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991551)

Looking at that slashdot reference from 2003 it's fairly obvious how the comment quality declined since the Good Old Days (TM) (and /. still doesn't accept UTF-8!).

Re:slashdot in the good old days (1)

leighklotz (192300) | about 2 years ago | (#41994851)

I remember thinking the same thing then.

Re:slashdot in the good old days (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 2 years ago | (#41995167)

And you were right then, just as he is right now.

Google's motivation (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | about 2 years ago | (#41991819)

The summary questions Google's motivations for doing this, but I think it should be clear this isn't a Google project, really. 20% projects can't be totally random, personal things that have no relationship whatsoever with the business or possible business... but the link can be very tenuous, and the cooler the project is, the weaker it can be. All tech managers at Google are engineers themselves and tend to be just as able to geek out about cool stuff as the people they supervise.

Various other bits of obvious Google support for the project are also more incidental than planned. For example, Dany mentions that he built the machine in one of the on-campus workshops. Those workshops are there for "real" work, but they're also available for any employees to use on an as-available basis. Tech talks are also organized by and for the employees for their own interests, with basically zero "corporate" supervision. Most are actually job-related, but far from all. There are plenty of project talks and hobby talks (though this particular hobby/project talk is much cooler than most).

I imagine there was a cursory review required to get permission to publish the talk and the design, but such things tend to be handled on a "is there some really good reason we should say no?" basis. If not... go for it. Publishing cool, geeky things done by Google engineers is pretty positive for Google's brand, and it makes the engineers happy, which is good for employee retention -- especially since the kind of employees who do cool stuff for fun is the kind Google most wants to retain.

Bottom line: It's very unlikely anyone at Google has a corporate strategy built around the release of this information. It's just an engineer doing something he thinks is fun and valuable (to someone) and the company providing generic support for such activities, and otherwise staying out of the way.

Re:Google's motivation (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#41992335)

"Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it?"

The Google Books team is not Google. It's a a group of people, some of whom built this non-destructive reader. It's quite likely these people, who probably love books, started by wondering if there was a way they could scan their content without damaging them physically, and decided to use their 20% time to figure it out.

As for scanning books, that is most definitely a Google-the-company supported project, which they've put a lot of company resources into, including going to bat in the courts to defend the project.

Let's see the true hackers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991823)

Anyone for building the same thing out of Lego?

Does it scan both pages of the open booK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41991903)

I seem to have missed something. The image detector only seemed to be on one side of "V", so how does the page on the other side get scanned?

Re:Does it scan both pages of the open booK? (1)

cruff (171569) | about 2 years ago | (#41992069)

If you had bothered to watch the video, you would have seen that there are two image sensors that capture two pages a pass.

The Internet Archive already has a good design (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41992279)

See archive.org...

Re:The Internet Archive already has a good design (1)

leighklotz (192300) | about 2 years ago | (#41994925)

See archive.org...

Yes, that's in the original submission, as you see above. For the record, Brewster Kahle (who founded Archive.org), Jeff and Danny (who did this project), and I are all MIT alums, and the "Internet Archive scanning robot" is from a company called Kirtas, which also has ties to Xerox.

Shredder scanner (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#41992933)

I'm waiting for a reference to the shredder-scanner to come up from Rainbow's End.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbows_End [wikipedia.org] (although the wiki article doesn't mention that piece of the plot, sadly)

Re:Shredder scanner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42009567)

One of the earlier comments criticized this scanner's design because it might tear out misaligned pages. That make me think of Rainbows End, naturally.

What about the patents? (1)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | about 2 years ago | (#41993391)

Google has a patent on using structured lighting to determine the shape of the page and correct the image ... is that open too?

Re:What about the patents? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#41996127)

Google has a patent on using structured lighting to determine the shape of the page and correct the image ... is that open too?

The license section on the googlecode [google.com] page (scroll to the bottom):

Additional IP Rights Grant (Patents)

Google hereby grants to you a perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable (except as stated in this section) patent license to make, have made, use, offer to sell, sell, import, transfer, and otherwise run, modify and propagate this design where such license applies only to those patent claims, both currently owned by Google and acquired in the future, licensable by Google that are necessarily infringed by This design.

Does this answer your question?

Re:What about the patents? (1)

Taxman415a (863020) | about 2 years ago | (#41997209)

unfortunately this scanner doesn't incorporate anything that would use google's 3d structured lighting (laser grid, etc) scanning patent, so the patent grant for this scanner does not open up that patent. Google's laser grid patent allows automatic dewarping of a curved page, but this is a moving flatbed scanner. Nothing I've found so far incorporates any of the laser grid stuff.

Obligatory ass-kick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41997741)

Adds reader leighklotz: "... Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."

That's not a *DISCLAIMER*, dammit! That's a *DISCLOSURE*!

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