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Google Linear Book Scanner – if you want to see just how fast clever open source ideas can spread, watch this…


Google engineer Dany Qumsiyeh has spent his 20% free project time at Google to produce an ingenious automatic non-destructive book scanner, using low cost components and a vacuum cleaner. Yes, a household model.

The thing about book scanners is they’re either fiendishly expensive to buy because of all the technology needed to keep the pages safe, or they’re cheap and kind of cumbersome, requiring manual page flipping and button pressing to do the job.

Enter Dany’s design, which is cheap to build and yet offers automated, and even scaleable, book scanning for the masses.

The result is a superb implementation which costs $1500 or less to build, using throw away office flat bed or sheet fed scanner parts, a cheap electric motor and a vacuum cleaner to power the page flipping automation. The machine is still being developed, but already it can scan at around 10 seconds a pair of pages, and most importantly it doesn’t break the spine of the book in action, which is a librarian’s delight.


It takes around 40 seconds to add a new book, and the scans are done at around 300dpi resolution. The $20 scanner sensors the device uses produce better quality results than typical cheap digital camera DIY scanners, as well as being more compact.

The Google Linear Book Scanner has just been released as a fully open source project, and PDF plans are already available for free download. It’s another example of how Google loves to introduce disruptive technology and see what happens, and a great demonstration of the power of freeing up intellectual property is the fact that within only 3 days, someone in Japan had picked up on the design and produced a rough working version in cardboard. See the video below.

This kind of global knowledge dissemination is awesome, and a great example of the power of open source to drive innovation. We’ve mentioned DIY book scanners before, but this is the first one we’ve seen which could really set the amateur or home book scanning segment alight. The design also allows for multiple units to be daisy-chained together which means this could be a perfect solution for the huge number of large private libraries in existence.


Amazing project, and well done again to Google for releasing it to the world. [Via]

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.

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