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Google Books Input Devices Open Source Hardware

Google Engineers Open Source Book Scanner Design 69

Posted by timothy
from the your-book-scanner-sucks dept.
c0lo writes "Engineers from Google's Books team have released the design plans for a comparatively reasonably priced (about $1500) book scanner on Google Code. Built using a scanner, a vacuum cleaner and various other components, the Linear Book Scanner was developed by engineers during the '20 percent time' that Google allocates for personal projects. The license is highly permissive, thus it's possible the design and building costs can be improved. Any takers?" Adds reader leighklotz: "The Google Tech Talk Video starts with Jeff Breidenbach of the Google Books team, and moves on to Dany Qumsiyeh showing how simple his design is to build. Could it be that the Google Books team has had enough of destroying the library in order to save it? Or maybe the just want to up-stage the Internet Archive's Scanning Robot. Disclaimer: I worked with Jeff when we were at Xerox (where he did this awesome hack), but this is more awesome because it saves books."
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Google Engineers Open Source Book Scanner Design

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  • False economy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by srussia (884021) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:37AM (#41991253)
    FTFA: For the past eight years, Google has been working on digitizing the worldâ(TM)s 130 million or so unique books.

    If these books are truly unique, you're taking a big risk subjecting them to this contraption.
  • by concealment (2447304) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @09:45AM (#41991333) Homepage Journal

    We know it can happen. Rome fell, Greece fell, Angkor Wat fell, Easter Island collapsed. Societies die just like we do.

    It would be a shame to lose all of the knowledge, art, and literature that we have accumulated during our tenure so far.

    Scanning books is a good way to archive much of that information for the next society that can develop digital computing. I suggest we enshrine it all in orbit or on the moon, guaranteeing it relative immortality and making it accessible only to those technologically advanced enough to benefit from it.

    For all we know, the ancient Khmer civilization at Ankgor Wat [about.com] invented advanced technology, and it's just lost merely to time.

    We owe it to future generations to make sure our society does not lose as much when it collapses.

  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Thursday November 15, 2012 @10:02AM (#41991481)

    But stone & clay slabs of the Sumerians and papyrus of the Egyptians survived until today, but the original data feed of the Apollo missions are lost forever because they were thrashed when no one had the equipment to read the old data tapes.

  • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Thursday November 15, 2012 @10:38AM (#41991819) Homepage Journal

    The summary questions Google's motivations for doing this, but I think it should be clear this isn't a Google project, really. 20% projects can't be totally random, personal things that have no relationship whatsoever with the business or possible business... but the link can be very tenuous, and the cooler the project is, the weaker it can be. All tech managers at Google are engineers themselves and tend to be just as able to geek out about cool stuff as the people they supervise.

    Various other bits of obvious Google support for the project are also more incidental than planned. For example, Dany mentions that he built the machine in one of the on-campus workshops. Those workshops are there for "real" work, but they're also available for any employees to use on an as-available basis. Tech talks are also organized by and for the employees for their own interests, with basically zero "corporate" supervision. Most are actually job-related, but far from all. There are plenty of project talks and hobby talks (though this particular hobby/project talk is much cooler than most).

    I imagine there was a cursory review required to get permission to publish the talk and the design, but such things tend to be handled on a "is there some really good reason we should say no?" basis. If not... go for it. Publishing cool, geeky things done by Google engineers is pretty positive for Google's brand, and it makes the engineers happy, which is good for employee retention -- especially since the kind of employees who do cool stuff for fun is the kind Google most wants to retain.

    Bottom line: It's very unlikely anyone at Google has a corporate strategy built around the release of this information. It's just an engineer doing something he thinks is fun and valuable (to someone) and the company providing generic support for such activities, and otherwise staying out of the way.

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