Scientists Develop An Imaging System That Can Read Through Closed Books

Bookworms may enjoy this new innovation on reading books. Researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech are developing a device that might disregard the need of opening a book when reading.

The Imaging System

MIT's Barmak Heshmat, Ramesh Raskar and Albert Redo Sanchez and Georgia Tech's Justin Romberg and Alireza Aghasi have been testing a prototype imaging system on a stack of papers. Each paper has one letter printed on it. According to MIT, the system was able to correctly determine the letters on the top of nine sheets.

Heshmat revealed that the Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in their system. The museum wanted to use it to look into some antique books that they don't even want to touch.

How Does It Work?

In order for the system to work, it has to use terahertz radiation. It's a group of electromagnetic radiation. It is found between microwaves and infrared light. This type of radiation is generally used in security screening.

Terahertz radiation is used in ways that X-rays can't. Its frequency profiles will be able to distinguish between inks and black paper. This works because different chemicals absorb different amounts of terahertz radiation. It creates the unique frequency signature for each material when the waves bounce back to a sensor.

To be able to distinguish between individual sheets of paper, the system has to use short bursts of that radiation according to Popular Mechanics. It the difference in the light wave absorption between the ink and blank paper that allows the system to produce an image of written letters.

It also needs to work with multiple algorithms. The algorithms will help to create a legible image of the print. MIT first set that MIT developed produce raw images. It was the additional algorithm by Georgia Tech that morphs the blurry raw images into clear individual letters.

The Future Of The Imaging System

But before we could get to a point where we can see a book through its cover, the noise or interference picked up by the sensor should be canceled out first. If it can do that, the system will be able to read every page of a 600-page book.

Unless they are able to overcome that challenge, there is still a long way to go. Laura Waller of the University of California Berkeley admitted that so much work has gone into this technology just to get it working. But she is enthusiastic that there are big promises for imaging new and exciting things.


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