Latest in Science

Image credit: AP Photo/Akira Suemori

MIT uses radiation to read closed books

Terahertz imaging can scan pages that would be too fragile to touch.
3984 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

AP Photo/Akira Suemori

There are some books that are simply too delicate to crack open -- the last thing you want to do is destroy an ornate medieval Bible simply because you're curious about its contents. If MIT has its way, though, you won't have to stay away. Its scientists have crafted a computational imaging system that can read the individual pages of a book while it's closed. Their technology scans a book using terahertz radiation, and relies on the tiny, 20-micrometer air gaps between pages to identify and scan those pages one by one. A letter interpretation algorithm (of the sort that can defeat captchas) helps make sense of any distorted or incomplete text.

This doesn't mean you'll be reading fragile manuscripts any time soon. The current implementation can only read about nine pages deep before it's overwhelmed by noise, and it can't even gauge the depth beyond 20 pages. MIT will need to improve both the power and overall accuracy of its terahertz tech before you can read that precious first-run copy of War and Peace. The very fact that it's a possibility is exciting, however. Historians could read books that they're too afraid to touch in the first place, or let fellow researchers have a peek at a book they've read without worrying about additional wear and tear.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
3984 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

MIT experts find a way to reduce video stream buffering on busy WiFi

MIT experts find a way to reduce video stream buffering on busy WiFi

View
Twitter is displaying China-made ads attacking Hong Kong protesters

Twitter is displaying China-made ads attacking Hong Kong protesters

View
'Rainbow Six: Siege' adds a 'Fortnite' style Battle Pass

'Rainbow Six: Siege' adds a 'Fortnite' style Battle Pass

View
Three UK rolls out 5G home internet access in London

Three UK rolls out 5G home internet access in London

View
Sonos' portable smart speaker leaks in greater detail

Sonos' portable smart speaker leaks in greater detail

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr