As libraries around the world are moving towards the future and digitizing their collections, this has been no easy task. The fastest scanning method up until now involved cutting books up to feed them through a quick scanner, which seems blasphemous to do to rare editions, but the alternative of manually scanning each page would be far too tedious. But low and behold BFS-Auto, a robotic book scanner that can digitize books at the rate of over 250 pages/minute without damaging the book in any way!
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Created by the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory, the BFS-Auto robot is set to hit the market in 2013. This will save librarians countless hours in the digitization process. With high-speed fully-automated page flipping, real-time 3D recognition of the flipped pages, and high-accuracy restoration to a flat document image, this machine could take a lengthy year long project down to a few months. With robots taking over monotonous tasks like this one, perhaps humans will have the time to do more advanced jobs, although I predict this machine will not fit in every library’s budget.