Monday, October 15, 2007

Press release: 3D Scanner May Save Vanishing Languages from Extinction

The press release states:
Fragile field recordings of American Indian speech and song gathered in the early 1900s may be saved for future generations through breakthrough technology supported by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The Institute is funding the research and development of a 3D optical scanner through a $507,233 interagency agreement with the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)...
Most people are probably unaware of the number of wax cylinders that are in existence. Since playing them can ruin them, these new technologies will allow the sound to be digitized without harming the original cylinders.

In talking about the technology, the press release goes onto say:
The new 3D system builds on a 2D system also developed by the Berkeley Lab called IRENE (Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.), which gathers digital sound from grooved discs (flat recordings such as traditional 78 rpm shellac disc records) by illuminating the record surface with a narrow beam of light. The flat bottoms of the groove -- and the spaces between tracks -- appear white, while the sloped sides of the groove, scratches, and dirt appear black. The computer turns this information into a digital sound file and corrects areas where scratches, breaks or wear have made the groove wider or narrower than normal. IRENE then “plays” the file with a virtual needle without damaging or destroying the original media. The technology was adapted from methods used to build radiation detectors for high-energy physics experiments.
Very cool!

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