A group of scientists from the Georgia Tech and Ramesh Raskar, an Indian-origin researcher from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have successfully developed a new technology to read pages of a book without opening it. The technology enables the machine to read through the pages of a closed book. It uses a system makes electromagnetic waves to bounce on pages to read stacked pages.

Currently, the technology is in its prototype stage and the researchers have been able to employ it to read 9 pages containing one printed letter and being stacked on top of one another without touching them. In case the researchers become successful in making the technology perfect, people will be able to read a book without even opening its cover or touching it. Researchers, including Ramesh Raskar, tested a prototype of the system on a stack of papers, each with one letter printed on it. This new computational imaging method was able to identify letters printed on first nine pages of a stack of paper.

The technology being employed is terahertz radiation, which corresponds to the energy band between microwave and infrared. Terahertz has the ability to differentiate between ink and paper in a better way. However, the other types of waves X-Rays or sound waves are unable to do so. Moreover, terahertz is able to penetrate more layers as compared to ultrasound and retain the accuracy. The device is able to differentiate between layers of multiple printed letters by measuring the change in refractive index while the terahertz radiation pass through and reflected to the camera. A closed book has minute 20 micrometers deep air pockets between its pages.

However, terahertz is at a nascent stage technology. If successful, it can enable archeologists to read old books without having to touch them. Also, the technology can be employed to analyze layers of other materials as well.

by Ashwani Srivastava

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