Exciting technological advancements are on the verge of making it possible to read a book without so much as touching it. A camera developed by researchers at MIT and Georgetown has the ability to make out letters from the first nine pages of a book.
Terahertz radiation, the new image processing technique used for the camera, is the same one being implemented for security bomb checks. After hearing of the potential for the technology to look through envelopes, researchers at MIT were inspired to surpass the single page limitation and open the technology up to be used in ancient text analysis. By measuring the time it takes for the terahertz waves to bounce between the air pockets that divide the pages, algorithms developed by the team are able to extrapolate how many pages there are. Coupled with advancements in text recognition software, the system proved successful in reading text from a group of stacked note-cards.
Although there have yet to be tests on actual books, the usefulness of the technology is already garnering attention. The ability to look through ancient and delicate manuscripts with having to touch them will prove an invaluable resource, and the New York Metropolitan Museum is already showing interest in using the camera on their own stash of antique books.
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