Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Today I saw a demo of the Kirtas book scanner

Today I saw a demo of the Kirtas Bookscan 1200. The marketing literature said that I would be amazed, and I was! The scanner itself is impressive. It can scan a page in three seconds (1200 pages/hour) and works automatically, needing very little human intervention. The machine weighs under 200 lbs. and can be taken to the books, if necessary. Unlike those scanners of yesteryear, this one can be moved without becoming temperamental. The software allows for efficient post-processing including cropping, adjusting contrasts, etc., and storing files in PDF and/or TIFF format. Using templates, the software can work automatically on scanned pages. Some books do require human attention during post-processing. For example, a bound journal, where most of the inner margin has been trimmed off, may require a human to recenter the pages. However, it seems that most books could be post-processed with little human intervention.

Although the scanner is referred to as a book scanner, Lotfi Belkhir, Kirtas' CEO, said that it works with any bound document. For example, you could use it to scanner bound reports, journals, product instruction books, and lab notebooks.

A video demo of the scanner is available on the Kirtas web site.

I'll write more about this tomorrow. For now, I need to meditate on one question -- What (where) will be the real impact of this technology?

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Kirtas scanner does take more human intervention than you think. Naturally, Kirtas uses very well behaved books when they do their demonostrations. In reality, every book is a special (and sometimes stubborn) snowflake. In Toronto, an operator is required to make sure that each page lays flat, there aren't misfeeds, and that the robot behaves.

Also, though the scanner can *technically* scan 1200 pages per hour, we have experienced an average of 500 pages an hour through our project. It takes time to set up a book and keep the robot scanning correctly through the day. Better scanning numbers are achieved through grouping books of the same size or scanning multiple volumes in a series of books. This cuts down on the setup time.

This isn't to say that the Kirtas machine isn't amazing. Even at 500 pages an hour and an operator touching every page, it has made a huge leap forward in high volume digitization. Kirtas is working hard to make these numbers higher, and the amount of human intervention less, and I look forward to every single revision of the robot.

Molly Davis
Internet Archive

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