Technological advancement is going through an extreme rapid phase of evolvement because of which science fiction is coming closure to the reality. Researchers at MIT and Georgia have invented a device which can easily see through the paper and determine what is written upon it. This seems like to be straight out of science fiction wherein people can read the book without even opening the book itself. The prototype designed by the researchers was able to successfully identify the letters which were printed on the top nine sheets of the paper. Researchers are hopeful that they will be come up with a system which can help in reading closed books in near future.

The reason behind following this research is that a number of library and museums around the world had shown interest towards having some technology which can enable to look into antique books without even touching.

How does this prototype work?

The imagining system employed in the prototype makes use of the terahertz radiation. Terahertz radiation is a particular frequency of light right on the electromagnetic spectrum which comes between microwaves and infrared light. This radiation is mostly used in the security screening and happens to be more advantageous than X rays.

The ink present on the books or papers is made up of chemical and different chemicals tend to absorb varying amounts of terahertz radiation. This prototype carefully analyses the unique frequency signature of each material and waves are bounced back to it whereby it gets the ability to differentiate between an ink and a black paper.

This process is ‘scary’

A large number of computer algorithms work in tandem to create an image which can be understood by all. In the beginning the MIT researchers were only able to produce raw images based on signals being up by the prototype’s sensor. Later on Georgia Tech developed an algorithm which helped in refining the incomplete raw images and also identified the individual letters.

In a press release researcher has stated that the whole process happens to be kind of scary.  Researchers further elaborates that most of the websites makes use of the letter certification or captchas on their website in order make sure that the user is a human but this algorithm easily by pass this security feature.

Current prototype is limited to just 20 pages

Current prototype has the ability to read just 20 pages using Terahertz. Its efficiency is limited due to noise interference. When light waves travels through the book it is either absorbed by ink or paper or simply bounces back but some of the Terahertz radiation are caught going back and forth within the pages and this leads to interference.

Terahertz radiation is rather a new field and with much development and advancement in upcoming years we will be able to get a machine which can read the whole book without opening it and so some other exciting stuff. Researcher has started working on improving the power of Terahertz radiation source along with improving the capability of the detectors.