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Judging a Book Through Its Cover

By MIT News

September 9, 2016

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An imaging system that can read closed books is being designed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

The prototype was tested on a stack of papers, each with a single letter printed on it, and the system correctly identified the letters on the top nine sheets.

The system uses MIT-developed algorithms that obtain images from individual sheets, while an algorithm from Georgia Tech interprets the often misshapen or incomplete images as individual letters.

The prototype has a standard terahertz camera that emits short bursts of radiation, and a sensor to detect their reflections so the MIT algorithm can measure the distance to the book's individual pages.

The algorithm also filters out noise caused by the sensor's electronics and other disruptions, and it can accurately infer the distance from the camera to the top 20 pages in a stack.

MIT Media Lab researcher Barmak Heshmat believes the system could be employed to analyze any materials arranged in thin layers. "The Metropolitan Museum in New York showed a lot of interest in this, because they want to, for example, look into some antique books that they don't even want to touch," he says.

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