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BFS-Auto robot can read 250 pages per minute


November 24, 2012

The Ishikawa Oku Laboratory robot book scanner

The Ishikawa Oku Laboratory robot book scanner

Image Gallery (3 images)

Online book collections are becoming larger and more important each day. As more libraries are digitized, people are now able to read books on their tablets that once would have required traveling thousands of miles to even see. Scanning hundreds of thousands of books quickly without damaging them remains a challenge however, and it's a challenge which the BFS-Auto robot is well and truly up for.

Developed at the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory, the BFS-Auto can digitally scan books at a rate of 250 pages per minute. At that rate, it could make a dent in a good sized library in one day.

Usually creating a digital version of a book is a choice between slow manual scanning and high-speed scanning, which requires cutting books up before running them through a scanner. The BFS-Auto can do the job with the book in its original format at high-speed.

The clever thing about the BFS-Auto is that it can blur through an intact book at speed while accurately scanning. It does this by holding the book opening and flipping through it without pausing, like an extremely bored bookshop browser. As the pages flip, a pair of high-definition cameras scan the pages while two kinds of light provide information about the page’s 3D topography. The latter allows the robot to map the page’s 3D deformation and using a real-time algorithm it restores the image to a flat view without curling as well as guarding against skipped pages.

The BFS-Auto is due to hit the market in 2013.

The video below explains how the BFS-Auto works.

Link: Ishikawa Oku Laboratory via Dvice

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

I can just imagine this robot speaking with the voice of Number Five in the old movie "Short Circuit." More input!


Awesome is a much misused word nowadays and I try never to use it but this device must justify an exception.

It is truly an awesome development. I just wish I could borrow or even hire one for a couple of days to scan all my books ...and so liberate 'a few acres' (forgive my hyperbole) of shelf space in my office.

Utterly brilliant...I want one!!


I'm with Alien, but I doubt if either of us could afford one. Still, if that company is public, it wouldn't be a bad investment ... they are going to make a bucket load of bucks.


I'd still like to see Vernor Vinge's idea developed. In "Rainbows End" he included a system where books were shredded then the bits blown through a tube lined with thousands of little cameras capturing images of all the pieces. Software then automatically reassembled and did OCR on the images.

Books digitized in seconds each. Need to re-scan? Store the "shredda" then blow it through the tube again.

If such a system could be built, it'd be great for things that aren't rare or intrinsically valuable like magazines. Could throw two or more copies through the shredder to compensate for any mangled edges of pieces, especially in photos and illustrations.

Gregg Eshelman

Expand to 500 said Units X 250 pages per min X the Lib of Congress, other museum archieves alone, wow. & then digitize data for later use. & add 3D for maps, modelling for Visuals to text.

= 1M25,000.00 pages read (now add 24./7 X 4, X 12 mos).

Stephen Russell
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