by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Sept 10, 2010
Japanese researchers said Friday they had developed technology to scan a book as fast as a person can flip through it.
A prototype ultra-speed scanner capable of digitising a book in one minute will be built within two years, said the chief researcher of the team at the University of Tokyo's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology.
The "book-flipping scanning" system works with a camera that can take up to 500 photographs per second, enabling it to record about 170 book pages in 60 seconds as a person thumbs through them.
The system adjusts for the distortion caused by the curvature of the moving pages by measuring their three-dimensional forms using infra-red beams, so that the images can be electronically "flattened" to look like the original.
"We believe this is the world's fastest (scanning) system as far as the technologies already published are concerned," said Yoshihiro Watanabe, who leads the research team.
"We are considering using robots to turn the pages automatically and more neatly," he told AFP by telephone.
The university researchers teamed up with Japan's Dai Nippon Printing this month to put the technology to practical use, with the aim of building a prototype scanner within two years.
Japanese printing firms are diversifying into e-books, which can be read using handheld devices such as Apple's iPad tablet computer or Amazon's Kindle.
Watanabe said the technology to rapidly capture 3-D images of fast-moving objects could be used in a variety of applications from robotics to industrial and automotive design.
The technology could be used for quality control of industrial products, he said. "You would just scan products that come out of manufacturing lines," he added.
"It could also be used to develop a safer and more comfortable driving system. If mounted on a car, this could take 3-D images of obstacles ahead or dents and bumps in the road to avoid them.
"If loaded into the eyes of robots, they would be able to move much faster than humans."
earlier related report
Revenue from videogame software and hardware tallied 818.9 million dollars, 10 percent less than the 910.3 million dollars taken in during the same month last year, according to data released Thursday by NPD Group.
"In fact, this month reflected the lowest sales for August since 2006," said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.
"While all categories are down in both dollars and units, the portable portion of the industry is down to a greater extent than is the console portion."
Sales of portable videogame devices, accessories and games plunged 25 percent as compared to August of 2010, while revenue from consoles was down six percent, NPD reported.
The disappointing figures came with fading hopes that a recovering economy would re-ignite sales in a videogame industry that was booming at the start of the global fiscal crisis.
Sales of videogames and gear as of the end of August were 8.37 billion dollars, down 8.0 percent from the 9.09 billion dollars taken in at the same point the previous year, according to NPD.
US videogame industry sales slipped about one percent in July despite a jump in the number of shoppers snatching up Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 (PS3) and Wii consoles, the market tracker reported.
Xbox 360 was the top selling videogame console in August, with people spending 356,700 dollars on the Microsoft-made consoles.
Sony posted a 13th straight month of improved year-over-year PS3 sales in the United States, taking in 226,000 dollars in August.
Spending on videogame software dropped 14 percent to 403.5 million, with the freshly released "Madden NFL 11" sports title centered on US football being the best-seller.
Next week's release of "Halo: Reach" is expected to boost videogame sales as the franchise has a broad and devoted following.
Frazier expected the videogame to kick off a wave of "mega-title releases" in the remainder of the year.
In coming months, Sony is to begin selling a Move accessory to add motion-sensing control capabilities to PS3 consoles and Microsoft is to release Kinect hardware that lets players use body movement to command the Xbox 360.
Frazier predicted the US retail videogame sales for this year would be in the range of 18.6 to 20 billion dollars given "the incredible games and accessories (e.g., Move and Kinect) that are coming out."
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