Frequently Asked Questions

Can it scan every book?

The prototypes works on a wide range of books, but there are restrictions on book dimensions and page thickness (thin dictionary pages or thick card stock pages will not work). For prototype 1, about 60% of books satisfy these conditions and can be scanned.

Is it safe for books?

Prototype 1 could scan the majority of books without damage, but may tear one or two pages in some books. Out of 50 books tested, 45% had one or two of their pages either torn or folded. This is a very early prototype and there are many areas for improvement in the design.

How do you detect errors?

Prototype 1 has a break-beam sensor which detects the pages as they are being turned. If a page doesn't turn or gets stuck, the motor stops. The scanning software displays each page as it is scanned and provides features for quickly checking whether any pages had problems.

What happens if the book is dirty?

It's possible for dirt to get stuck on the sensor and cause the image to have streaks. This is rare and could be detected in software if necessary. A good practice could be to wipe the sensor between each book.

Does it work for soft-cover books?

Yes. Some soft-cover books have tight bindings and will not sit flat on the machine. You can press these books down with a weight, or place another book on top while scanning.

Can you make it turn pages in both directions?

You could have page-turning slots on both sides of the sensors and scan in both directions. This would slightly shorten the scanning time per page pair because the book would not have to move back over the scan sensors when they are not scanning. With prototype 1, this would save about one second out of the 11 second cycle, but would make the machine significantly more complicated.

How about flipping it upside down and moving the device instead of the book?

Perhaps that would work, but the book is much smaller than the machine, so I think it's the easier one to move.

How about chaining a bunch of them together into a circle?

Sure! Since the spine of the book is straight, though, it would be difficult for it to run smoothly over a curved surface. The circle would need to be very large.

How about making the book hover like on an air hockey table?

That might work and it sounds like fun, but the page still needs to be suctioned against the surface for turning and flat against the sensors for scanning.