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Hardware Technology

Camera Phone As High-precision Scanner 232

christchurch writes "The software, developed by NEC and the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST) in Japan, goes further than existing cellphone camera technology by allowing entire documents to be scanned simply by sweeping the phone across the page. As reported, an A4 sized page takes only 3 to 5 seconds to scan, and it is causing copyright concerns."
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Camera Phone As High-precision Scanner

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  • Is that irony? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @01:59AM (#13593881) Homepage
    "Nothing to see here, move along"

    Is that irony?

    This sounds like those 60s spy movies where they would use the miniature tie-camera to take spy photos :)
    • Japanese Tourists... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @08:52AM (#13595071) Journal
      This sounds like those 60s spy movies where they would use the miniature tie-camera to take spy photos

      Or the "serious" ones where they used the Minox with the focus-string to copy documents - just like the real spys did.

      After WWII japanese industry at first was synonymous with cheap, shoddy, stamped-metal goods. This went on for a decade or more. But as they got their industry built back up they began to make some quality goods. One of the first things to be made in production were inexpensive cameras with high-quality optics.

      Back in the '60s there was a stereotype: The crowd of Japanese tourists with cameras, photographing everything: Stop signs, park benches, flowers, door knockers, etc. The impression was that photography was a fad in Japan, fueled by the availability of the good cameras and film.

      In those days industries gave tours of their facilities as a PR thing, letting anybody who wanted see how things were made: Cars, steel, plastic parts, electronic devices, cerial, you name it. Of course the ubiquitous half-busload of vacationing Japanese would take the tours.

      Shortly thereafter a host of japanese industries - auto, plastic, electronic, cerial, you name it - upgraded their processes. You might think it was just the inevitable "convergent evolution" of good engineering. But an exact clone of the Rice Crispies shot tower?

      Turns out that, regardless of whether the fad itself was a put-on or an honest social phenomenon, Japanese industrial spys had taken advantage of it for corporate espionage.

      And very effective corporate espionage: Japan went from a producer of cheap stamped-metal toys and cheap quality cameras to an industrial powerhouse. They became the dominant producer of automobiles and consumer electronics, to name just two major industries where the US HAD been the leader. The US steel industry and much of the manufacturing that used its output, meanwhile, became the "Rust Belt".

      And US companies (such as Kellogs) stopped giving the plant tours that HAD been major tourist attractions for their localities. (With the result that a couple generations in the US have now grown up with negligible understanding of the internals of industrial mass production, one factor contributing to a their profound distrust of corporations.)

      Now we have had cellphones with a built-in camera as a standard component for several years (until they're deployed ubiquitously), and news of document scanner software for the cameras. Sounds to me like a similar fad and a similar opportunity.

      Ok, so it makes a noise. And YOU can't disable the noise. But I'm sure that there will soon appear a hack that will disable the noise. (If nothing else, the "cute" ones that use a recorded camera shutter for pictures and whatever they pick for a scanner function will play them from a table. So make a modified firmware load with an empty table, or a hidden extra menu option to select an table entry containing silence for the prefered sound.)

      But if I take off my tinfoil hat I start to wonder: WHY do cellphones have cameras? Did YOU ask for your cellphone to have a camera? Did you WANT your cellphone to have a camera? Did you have a USE for your cellphone to have a camera?

      Or did it suddenly appear, despite the added expense, on a consumer item in a cost-sensitve, highly competitive, industry?

      Dominated by manufacturers in places like Japan... B-)
      • Hm. As I understood it, as it was happening, the mechanism of the success of the Japanese model was not so much how they made things, but how they treated their human assets.

        Weirdly enough, it was an American (don't recall the name) labor theorist that went to Japan and impressed them with the Theory Y style of management -- teams, listening to the line workers and giving them credit, and most especially treating them like a valued member of the company instead of a liability that needed to be cost controll
        • since the Reagan era has dismantled the whole concept and returned to a 19th century model of driving down wages .... (snip) ... the point is there should be many US manufacturers of cheap cell phones, as well as TV's, radios, iPods, whatever. Nope, off-shore tax-free manufacturing plants don't count.

          You inadvertently have pointed out a tension of the modern age which must be faced. Each society must strike a balance between high wages and benefits for its workers and low prices and availability of its

      • by technoCon ( 18339 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @11:26AM (#13596158) Homepage Journal
        Though I agree that this is a very interesting and telling, observation, it overlooks a couple other factors in post-war Japanese industrial success.

        1) The Japanese adopted the statistical process control methods of Western Electric developed by Edwards Deming. In the '80s, the Japanese were eating Detroit's lunch by producing higher quality cars using these methods.

        2) The Japanese industrial base was severely damaged by WW2 bombing and all those factories were rebuilt according to state-of-the-art designs. Once the rebuilding expense was amortized, this gave them a competitive advantage.

        I recall from History class that "unicausal" explanation of historical trends are generally inferior to multicausal explanations.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:01AM (#13593886)
    This isn't new; I've seen James Bond copy pages by photographing them with one of those tiny cameras. This is only different in that it's digital, and built into a cellphone.
  • by AmigaBen ( 629594 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:02AM (#13593888)
    I don't know about you, but I'm sick of everything being a flipping copyright concern. Screw the media conglamorates and their infinite copyrights and fascist enforcement.


    • besides, a scanner can do the job even faster..

      hell, someone could just type whatever was on that page or take a picture with 8mpix phone.

      if it's confidential then non-trusted people shouldn't even read it anyways or you have problems.
      • A scanner could do the job faster? Maybe if you have a high speed flatbed with an onboard power supply in your backpack.

        And if you can type out pages of text fast enough to make it worth your time then Project Gutenberg would love to hear from you.

        The real concern here is people copying entire books (semi) easily. But that shouldn't be a concern, because libraries already exist.
  • crappy reporting (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lehk228 ( 705449 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:04AM (#13593896) Journal
    the copyright issue is a non-issue contrived for the story, there really is nothing to it
    • by KillShill ( 877105 )
      uh huh.

      that's why in japan they banned camera phones and the like in magazine shops.

      the bribers erm i mean lobbyists who "talk" to congress, all spout this same garbage.

      everything that can potentially record any data, analog or digital, is a terrorist tool.

      how many stories have you heard of just on /. that fits along these lines?

      they want to get rid of the analog hole. that is their ultimate goal, at least in the short term. in the digital domain, it is far easier to restrict access and functionality than c
      • banned in Japan? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rocketship Underpant ( 804162 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:47AM (#13594171)
        I live in Japan, and I've seen no bans on camera phones in magazine stores or elsewhere. Every single Japanese person owns one and takes it everywhere.

        What's more, it's common practice for people here to go to the book store or magazine rack and just stand there reading the magazines without buying them. :)
      • I find the ban on cellphones with cameras somewhat dubious. I'm not saying there aren't places where it's true, but how would you enforce it in a small magazine shop? It doesn't make sense.

        The market saturation of cellphone cameras is getting pretty close to 100% in some markets, they're also getting smaller and easier to conceal as well. Unless you're very thoroughly patting-down every person who comes into your store, that's just not going to be enforceable.
    • from the article:

      According to NEC, their software is designed to sound an alarm when being used, to avoid any copyright conflicts.

      Doesn't look like a non-issue to me. Sounding an alarm when I use their product? Excuse me?? Technology is driving us toward a turning point in the history of sharing ideas. Eventually people are going to question whether the benefits of intellectual property rights laws are worth the enormous costs of enforcing them. For that to happen, ordinary people who normally wouldn't und
    • With print publishing the situation appears to be even more intractable because the new software will make it possible to make copies without even purchasing the original, he says.

      Licensing agreements may be one option he says. But also people will have to learn that certain rules of conduct still apply. "It is true that this technology may cause copyright issues if it were to be used in an unorthodox way," says the NEC spokesman. But NEC would never encourage such behaviour, he adds.

      According to NEC, t

    • Exactly. Copyright is not a concern, copyright is the problem.

      We see that technology invalidated copyright. The good reaction: we abolish copyright because it's just not feasible any more. The stupid reaction: putting our heads in the sand and pretending the problem does not exist for the sake of interests based on outdated business scheme.

      Let's theorize: what would happen if we would invent a machine that is capable of replicating matter quite effectively? Would we still hold on to our precious paper m
    • Getting on slashdot (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gr8_phk ( 621180 )
      I recently submitted a blurb to slashdot about the upcomming release of the Stix fonts and the fact that they are asking for feedback on the license right now. I was nonthreatening, so it got rejected of course. So now I'm considering a rewrite mentioning "License" in the title and some BS about YRO and copyrighting the very fonts your documents are created with. I think /. would be interested in these new fonts, and also interested in the license terms. It's unfortunate that it takes a line of fearmongerin
  • by lav-chan ( 815252 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:05AM (#13593897)

    According to NEC, their software is designed to sound an alarm when being used, to avoid any copyright conflicts. The company claims that any attempts to mute the device somehow or plug in headphones will not affect the audibility of this alarm.

    I can understand their reason for doing that, but that doesn't really endear me to using mobile phones 'as portable faxes or scanners that can be used any time'. I personally feel kind of awkward when my phone's camera makes that little clicky noise. I don't think i would ever use it if it sounded an alarm.

    • huh? Look deeper in prefs. Menu > Settings > Sounds > Camera sound = none. Most phones allow that.
      Digital cameras are silent, and the phone usually makes the noise just to let you know that it actually did make the photo.
      • by Orinthe ( 680210 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:23AM (#13593965) Homepage
        I think that many phones in the US have already phased out the ability to run off the camera sound because of privacy issues. You can no longer buy phones in Japan that will take pictures silently. This is, of course, not to let you know that you took the photo, but rather to let others know that you took the photo.

        • My Cingular Motorola v220 I just got is silent by default when capturing grainy 640x480 pictures. I'm not sure there is an option to have a sound, but I don't care because I would just use my 5MP digital camera, not my cell phone, if I needed a picture of something.
        • I think that many phones in the US have already phased out the ability to run off the camera sound because of privacy issues.

          My phone will happily take a short video without making a sound, and my real camera is virtually silent. If I want to invade your privacy, I'll just use something other than the phone's crappy still picture capability.

          • Of course you should take into consideration that newer mobile phones have very comptetent cameras. 2Mpx with optical focus are pretty standard for mid-high end phones now.

            Those can take pretty good pictures in my experience.
            • No matter how many megapixels they create, the lenses and CCDs on mobile phone cameras can't hold a candle to a decent digital camera. In my experience, even a good camera phone takes blurry and grainy pictures compared to my 2Mpx Canon.
      • In a few places it is now required by law that digital cameras (and cameraphones) have a shutter sound that can't be disabled.
        • Can't be disabled... hmm... show me how exactly are you going to prevent me from physically modding the camera's speaker.
          Sure, in the case of a phone it may take some functionality from me, but if I care more of having it as a camera with network capabilities, I can use something else to actually talk or resort to headphones.
    • by Chuck Chunder ( 21021 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:19AM (#13593951) Homepage Journal
      A truck "beeping" annoyingly when it reverses to alert people nearby that they might be in danger of being run over and horribly maimed or killed.

      A phone "beeping" annoyingly to alert people nearby that they might be in danger of "losing" some "intellectual property".
    • I can understand their reason for doing that

      Well, I can't. People that need to _will_ find a way around that.

      What I really don't understand is this desire of companies to become jury, judge and prosecuter all in one. This sounds like something that can be useful in an entirely legal manner. Imagine every device that could potentially be used to do something illegal have something like that built in.

      Can't work late at night anymore because the alarm in the screwdriver will wake up the kids... Absolutely craz
  • by BaronSprite ( 651436 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:06AM (#13593898) Homepage
    So now kids can write a note, then scan it, then phone it to their friend? Good, I was getting sick of people smsing me notes of little ascii pr0n.
  • by Vo0k ( 760020 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:07AM (#13593902) Journal
    New, improved, never-jamming zipper for use in trousers/jeans has been developed, which takes only 2s to take your pants off, and it is causing rape concerns.
  • by CptTripps ( 196901 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:08AM (#13593909) Homepage
    Give me a break. How can this be a threat to copyright? It's no different than someone snapping a picture of something now. There have ALWAYS been high-resolution scanners...thin ones now too!

    This smells a lot like when people were all upset that cd's were getting 'too cheap' and nobody was going to buy another CD. Well...maybe that KINDA happened.
  • you may notice that any copyright quotes don't even seem to be related to the phone!
  • by digital-madman ( 860873 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:12AM (#13593922)
    Copyright concerns?? How about industrial espionage concerns. Seems a little more important.

    Now the spys can get away with saying: "Copy what? I'm calling my mother!"

    -Digital Madman
    • If a spy can have access to documents or information of such sensitive nature then your security already flawed. It then doesn't matter wherever it's a camera-phone or some tiny embedded analog camera.

      • if someone has to handle those documents then how do you know they aren't a spy.

        if someone has the money and determination to plant a spy for many YEARS whilst they work thier way into sensitive positions what exactly can you do about it?
  • should read... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KillShill ( 877105 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:12AM (#13593923)
    "as reported, DRM/Insidious Computing technology
    will prevent lawful uses by the true owners of products. It is causing copyright concerns."

    copyright gives you the right to use a copyrighted product in any way you choose. the original agreement was for copyright law to be law only. that means it is up to the courts and the legal system to decide if there has been infringement. technical methods to prevent lawful use is an infringement itself.

    from my point of view, any product that prevents you using your purchased product in a lawful manner (everything except distribution), results in the immediate revocation of the company's copyright priviledges.

    you want DRM/Insidious Computing, fine. but in doing so, you forfeit your copyright protections. that means it becomes in essence, a trade secret. if someone cracks the protec^H^prevention scheme, then they can legally and ethically release all of the information for free into the public domain.

    now all we need are some reasonable judges and congre^H^H(well you can't have everything...)who won't listen to steamboat willie's copyright cartel.
  • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:16AM (#13593936)
    Maybe they should be worried about these new fangled photocopier thingymajigs.
    • Maybe they should be worried about these new fangled photocopier thingymajigs.

      Nah, don't worry, they'll never catch on.

    • Maybe they should be worried about these new fangled photocopier thingymajigs.

      To be fair, TFA talked about people scanning magazines in bookshops without buying the magazines. This sounds a rather unlikely scenario to me, but it is theoretically possible. People can already just spend a few minutes reading the story at the shop for that matter, and shops can bag or otherwise seal magazines if it is really a problem.

  • This is another nail in the coffin of corporate's insane fantasy of "copyright is our right to deprive the public of their rights", leading them to try to push DRM and anti-fair-use legislation.

    Looking at them reminds me of a drowning man trying to grab at anything to stay afloat. Unfortunately, they're more like the infamous 800 lb. gorilla-octopus which is making it unpleasant for me to live during their death throes.

  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <logicnazi AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:19AM (#13593950) Homepage
    Sounds really fucking annoying. Can you imagine any time you need to scan a page or text an alarm sounds. Either it won't be loud enough to alert people across a bookstore (and what will they do if they are alerted?) or it will be loud enough to annoy nearby persons and make even legitamate uses (say in a buisness meeting recording documents passed around) problematic.

    How long do you think it will be before a competitor cellphone company comes out with a phone with the feature or just 'oversight' which allows this to be easily disabled?

    Besides the entire idea is really stupid. Clicking to get one page of text is hardly the big scary threat that publishing companies need to be wary about. If the magazine is good enough to buy in the first place it will have many interesting articles and that will be too annoying to scan in a bookstore for a couple dollars.

    I mean be realistic here plenty of people buy text copies just because they don't like reading online. The real problem that faces paper publishers is the rise of e-readers and the same threat that faces the music industry.
    • by dasunt ( 249686 )

      I agree.

      So you have a phone that can OCR scan. Who would buy a phone specifically because of this feature? In the US, probably college students. Now imagine the circumstances in which a college student would use the scanner.

      Congratulations. The phone's unique feature has been crippled in such a way to make it unusable in many circumstances.

    • I can definitely imagine; many phones already do this. An incredibly loud stereotypical "camera" noise is made whenever you take a picture. Extremely annoying; it makes me reluctant to use the camera at all. Anybody know of a hack to disable the camera sound on a Nokia 3200?
    • I mean be realistic here plenty of people buy text copies just because they don't like reading online. The real problem that faces paper publishers is the rise of e-readers and the same threat that faces the music industry.

      The threat facing paper newspapers is lack of circulation. Who wants news a day late? In the Portland OR area, we turned down a free year subscription to the daily paper when we subscribed to the Sunday edition. We had the free daily and canceled it when we took a vacation. They need
  • So I wonder if this is primarily just a clever application of photostitching, or if they actually use superresolution techniques to generate a high-quality image.

    Either way, neat hack. But the latter would definitely be the neat*er* hack.
  • by Allnighterking ( 74212 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:34AM (#13593988) Homepage
    consider this patent. Mouse/scanner [] or the ability to purchase this Pen Scanner [] or god forbid instead of using the phone the person turned around and used the Xeorox. *sigh*

    No it's more a case of someone shouting "Quick close the barn doors the horses have all left!"

  • Isn't it amazing that everytime a new technology that provides a convience to the average consumer is immediately labeled as a device for theft and mischief. Let's be honest, is someone really going to sit in a book store and start scanning a 300 page novel? Or even a 50 page magazine. Of course not. Regardless, I'm betting they'll embed some sort of DRM system into this. I mean, they put it in printer cartridges, might as well do that here too.
    • What TFA fails to mention is that this is a concern raised in Japan about technology from a Japanese company.

      Don't forget that the Japanese have had 1.3 megapixel or greater quality cameras in their phones for years, and this isn't the first time that there's been articles about bookstore / magazine store owners (allegedly) complaining about people abusing technology in a way that might affect their revenue.

      This being the same Japan where the video game industry gets its panties in a bunch over used gam

    • so I can just point at the underside of a CD, click the shutter button, and have some software read the image and assemble the .iso for me.
  • I love it when a story in the Hardware section starts with the words "The software...".
  • So people want to save how much by reading one story?

    I guess if they can afford this type of mobile phone, they can afford a connection on their mobile phone...

    seriously the shift in society when every mobile phone has a dcent connection will be great - why EVER buy a newspaper? combine low cost roll out screens with a connection, and has the printing press finally met its match?

    compare any newspaper with and

    specialist newspaper? they probably already give it away for free on
  • by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @02:57AM (#13594054) Homepage
    For the 4 billion people that don't have a cellphone yet to annoy me with, they finally have a reason to get one after they find things like drinkable water, electricity, and food... the killer app. Theft!

    You could just TAKE THE BOOK. Geez.

    Who is this person still using paper anyway?
    • Who is this person still using paper anyway?

      Using paper is fun you know. I've been to theme weekends where we used paper to write letters. Just like in the middle ages, before the internet you know. Pretty intresting thing you know, there were strict rules on how to write, each word had only one spelling and different kinds of words had to be placed in a specific order. They called it "grammar" or something. And the really weird thing is that you had to use special symbols at specific places in your sente

  • Big fucking deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frodo Crockett ( 861942 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:00AM (#13594059)
    As reported, an A4 sized page takes only 3 to 5 seconds to scan, and it is causing copyright concerns.

    Really? It only takes one second to photograph an A4 size page with a film camera. Even worse, I hear that anyone can make a film camera with just a cardboard box and a pin. We'd better keep an eye out for info-terrorists running around with Improvised Photographic Devices!
    • I'm sorry modifying that cardboard box to make said device is a clear attempt to circumvent the copy protection built into it. Thus you are in violation of DMCA and your device, any instructions on how to make the device and anything you created with the device are illegal.

      Clearly you are also a terrorist.
  • I dont use libraries a lot, although i did recently, and i just realised i forgot about my overdue book again!!! DOH!

    Could this technology make libraries obsolete, or at least, get rid of any lines? Why bother actualy borowing a book now, when you can scan just the pages you want, instead of photocopying them and be done with it! Great idea! Saves the tree's too!
  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:11AM (#13594083) Homepage
    So, according to the article, we will see this commercially around 2008-2010.

    Justin Rattner tells us that in 2015, we should expect to see real-time super-resolution from cell cameras. [] That is, the ability to pick up several frames, and figure out more about the image, in real time, just based on the offsetting from holding a camera with a minute unconscious shake. (The problem is parallelizable, and 2015's x10-x100 core systems [] should take care of it.)

    We already have the software [] to construct models & textures, after some rendering, from video footage.

    If we could do real-time super-resolution in 2015, then it makes sense to me that, with some processing time, cell phone cameras in 2015 will render 3D-model textures and models. If the 4G network is around by then, (and it should be, []) we could very well see instead that the data is sent to more powerful processing arrays elsewhere, (ie, on your home computers, or on Google's computers) and rendered into models in real-time. 4G is around 20Mb, [] perhaps 3G at 3Mb [] is enough to transmit low-grade video capture in real-time; Enough to make our 3D models in real time as well.

    Presently, the OCR cameras require some rendering time. That requirement will clearly be gone by 2015; The cameras will automatically OCR text that is identified on-screen. (Perhaps the alarm will be a constant chirping buzz, whenever you use it?)

    As a side note: Perhaps Google maps of the future will learn about what street names go to what streets, simply by recognizing and reading the sign posts.

    What do you want to bet Google's going to get video footage of every city, and crank it into full-on 3D models? You better believe it. I'm betting on 2015, tops. (Who knows; I wouldn't be shocked if they weren't cranking on their Seattle footage now.)

    We should also expect, I think, that the public will assemble it's own models from public footage. Volunteers will capture footage with their cell phones (or, if they are showing off, sophisticated digital video recordsers,) and feed it to a public free culture grid, which will churn out 3D models and textures for distribution and retrieval.

    Is there a flaw in my reasoning? Are these outlandish thoughts for 2015? No! You can't have your Flying Car! [] Down boy! Retrain your imagination! [] Yes, people have predicted the future before; read about NISTEP's 1970's predictions for 1990-2000. []

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:16AM (#13594096)
    It's already illegal in Ohio to operate a camera phone (or any other video camera) in a movie theater, even in the lobby. For that matter, this applies in any business where a copyrighted work is being shown - such as Wal-Mart if they're showing movies on their TVs. You don't even have to record from the copyrighted material to get arrested and charged - just turn on the record function and you're guilty (and it's a felony on the second offense). What's more, the business owner is allowed to detain you until the police arrive.

    • EVERYBODY repeat after me...

      ---Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

      Does FELONY conviction not count as a "cruel and unusal" punishment for turning on a FUCKING camera phone?
    • Do you have a reference for this alleged law? I checked out the Ohio state code but couldn't find anything.
      • ORC 2913.07 [] Motion picture piracy.

        (A) As used in this section:

        (1) "Audiovisual recording function" means the capability of a device to record or transmit a motion picture or any part of a motion picture by means of any technology existing on, or developed after, the effective date of this section.

        (2) "Facility" means a movie theater.

        (B) No person, without the written consent of the owner or lessee of the facility and of the licensor of the motion picture, shall knowingly operate an audiovisual recording f

    • I wonder how many people would bother with watching wobbly 15fps low-res feature-length movies stitched together from multiple camera phones.

      BTW, most digital photo cameras cannot record more than 30 seconds at a time and 30 seconds of a movie is generally accepted as fair use.

      The entertainment industry is turning completely paranoid. It is losing control and instead of reinventing itself, it opted for making a jack-ass of itself by doing everything possible and not to keep itself afloat.

      I wonder how long i
    • Just buy a license to show MTV or something on a screen and stick it anywhere you don't want people taking pictures.
  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:20AM (#13594105) Homepage Journal
    Oh, for cry eye, a Minox camera can be used to copy pages. How about a Kodak Brownie? Christ, how about a fscking Daguerreotype?

    You're not seriously telling me that photographic copying is a surprise to these people?

    I'm sorry, but consumer-level digital computers are 30 years old. Electronic computing in general is at least 60 years old. Photography is over 160 years old. If you haven't figured out by now that Copying Happens, then you're a complete, blithering idiot. Seriously. Grow the hell up now; the world isn't going to stop for you, and the ulcer you save may be your own.


  • by SamMichaels ( 213605 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:23AM (#13594113)
    According to NEC, their software is designed to sound an alarm when being used, to avoid any copyright conflicts. The company claims that any attempts to mute the device somehow or plug in headphones will not affect the audibility of this alarm.

    The audible alarm may be bypassed by removing the device from which it makes sound.

    1) Open case
    2) Slice wire going to speaker
    3) Take pictures of secret documents
    4) Close case

    You'll somehow be thrown in jail by the DMCA and your entire family somehow destroyed by the Patriot Act and other anti-terrorism measures.

    Common sense.
    • If slicing the wire going to the speaker in a phone is common sense...
      • Just add a small switch. That way, for normal use, switch the speaker on, and for covert use, switch it off.

        Or, more easily: just get two phones: one for phoning, and one for spying.

        The spying phone still have an advantage over a camera: it looks like a phone, and could thus be "used" in situations where a camera would arouse suspicion (... well, unfortunately this becomes less and less true, the more widespread phone cameras get ...)

    • If your plan is to cut the wire to the speaker of a phone, you might want to consider purchasing a small camera instead.
  • Old idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by martijnd ( 148684 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @03:30AM (#13594133)
    I thought of it only last week, of course, I didn't patent it. Bugger. So pick my brain for prior art.

    But I figured that I could more rapidly, and non-destructively scan my dead-wood collection of books if I could use the USB Cam attached to my computer. Much faster than a flatbed scanner.

    You would need an algorithm that ensures that you can scan the whole page as you hold the camera, stitching the parts together, and ignoring things outside the page area. Then feed the result into an OCR routine to get a text version.

    Most (nearly) books are high contrast, black on white (or yellowish depending on book age) so the page boundaries shouldn't be too hard to detect.

    Now make a nice little programme to wrap this in, and you can "quickly" convert your favorite books into a format that can be read on a PDA, most of which will never be realised in any usefull digital form anyway.

    Plan B was just to use a digital camera to fotograph each page, and then feed the memory card into the OCR algorithm. Probably a lot easier.

    This seems to be an idea along very similar lines; I predict that we reach the pre-MP3 stage for books very soon now (when it took 10+ minutes to encode a single CD track on a P90) Camera's are everywhere, and you can probably download a half-decent (for European scripts) OCR library for the hard work.

    I sincerely hope so, as I would like my dead-wood to be as accessible as my music collection. (and to be honest, the dead wood is just gathering dust, wheras on my PDA i might actually get to re-read them in the train)

    Now back to reality....
  • What if someone invents a device that can hook up to your brain and can digitally transfer images and video and audio? Not that it's realistic, but I know they've hooked up cameras to kind of see what a cat's brain "sees" so maybe it's not such an impossibility.

    I'm just wondering when it will get to the point that you have to have your memory wiped MIB style after watching a movie so that you don't distribute what you've seen and violate those precious copyrights.
    • I'm just wondering when it will get to the point that you have to have your memory wiped MIB style after watching a movie so that you don't distribute what you've seen and violate those precious copyrights.

      That would pretty well kill the word-of-mouth on which some movies thrive.

      Guy #1: I hear you saw Rocky XIV last night. How was it?

      Guy #2: *drools and falls twitching to the floor*

      For some movies, this would be a bad thing indeed. No one ever would have seen Napoleon Dynamite, even on DVD. For others, it'
    • What if people had these two round things in their head that could "organically" transfer images to a self-contained "super computer" located somewhere above their arms and shoulders. And what if, instead of taking pictures of the magazines with phones, these horrid people read all the good magazine articles and then put the magazine back on the stand, unpurchased!

      And what if some book stores facilitated this copyright theft by putting big comfy chairs and couches all about the establishment?

      If you think pr
  • Sky falls in (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Nice comparison several people are making with film cameras here. I'm sure this would work for copying an article to read on the train, provided your journey takes an hour and a half, and the train has a one hour photo lab in first class.

    Similarly, photocopiers? Yeah, you just need an extension cord, sneak it up to the newsstand, and hit copy when nobody's looking.

    Making up copyright concerns before the device is even released? Nope. Camera phones are already being used to copy articles, so if an improved t
  • by Terje Mathisen ( 128806 ) on Monday September 19, 2005 @04:50AM (#13594361)
    Autostitch []/autopano []/autopano-sift [], along with Panorama Tools, PTAssembler, PTGui or Hugin [] (open source!) makes it possible to take a bunch of images, and automatically detect which sets of images can be merged into panoramas/photo-mosaics.

    Using any of them on a set of partial scans can be used to regenerate the original page.

  • In Japan, all new mobile phones are required to make a sound when taking photos (and since the average Japanese upgrades their phone every 6 months, that now includes nearly every phone in use). This alerts all people nearby that the user is taking the photo (though this really has more to do with the men taking candid photos of the schoolgirls). Needless to say, my Japanese phone makes a shutter sound even when it's on silent mode.
  • by jonr ( 1130 )
    Somebody must have posted this but...
    As reported, an A4 sized page takes only 3 to 5 seconds to scan, and it is causing copyright concerns.
    Obviously, these people have not heard of companies named Xerox, Canon or Konica. These companies make machines that can copy documents at lightning speed!
  • Why stitching? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MKaufmann ( 58554 )
    My new cellphone (Sony Ericsson D750i) has a 2MP camera. That gives a resolution of about 130dpi for an A4 page. That's enough to copy pages without any stitching. In fact, since my scanner has a 40 seconds warm-up phase, I started doing photocopying with my phone. It's simply faster and the quality is good enough for me.

Loose bits sink chips.