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Speedy book-scanning robot breezes through 250 pages per minute

If you thought you were a fast reader, with your finely tuned fingers and super-computer-like brain able to tear through a book in a couple of hours, then wait till you hear about the BFS-Auto robot.

Developed by engineers at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, the high-speed scanner can deal with an impressive 250 pages a minute, which works out at a shade over four pages every single second.

Designed to convert physical books into digital copies without having to first dismantle them, the robot flips delicately through the pages, with a pair of high-definition cameras analyzing and snapping them one by one.

One of the cameras monitors each page as it turns, observing its 3D structure 500 times a second in order to choose the very best moment for the second camera to fire its shutter.

As the book isn’t pulled right open and flattened down – which would obviously cause it damage – each image shows a slightly curled page. That’s no problem for the BFS-robot, however, which runs a real-time algorithm to create a flat, undistorted final image (right).

Expected to hit the market in 2013, the speed-reading robot could appeal to libraries wishing to quickly and efficiently create a digital record of its inventory – especially of publications which are out of print or commercially unavailable  – or for museums with historical manuals and texts in need of preservation. Perhaps Google Books will take a look at it.

And you never know, maybe the day will come where we’ll be able to wire it up to our brains, enabling us to get through a maxed-out Kindle in a couple of days (although that could start getting costly with the number of Amazon downloads required to keep up with demand….).

You can check out the BFS-Auto robot in the rather charming 60-second video below.

[Dvice via Gizmag]