DIY project: turn your smartphone into a scanner that converts paper books into ebooks

People who read actively may have invested a significant amount of money in their book collections. Every time they have to move to a new place or want to take their library with them on a vacation, they have to ask themselves the inevitable question: why can’t I have all my books in digital format on my tablet, ereader, phone or laptop? Well, now you can. If you have any do-it-yourself spirit in you, it is possible to build a pretty fast scanning system for digitizing your whole home library.

Tiflic book scanner by Mohib
Anyone who has ever tried to scan a paper book one page at a time on an ordinary home scanner knows how hopelessly time-consuming effort it is. In practice, it is impossible to scan a home library consisting of more than a few books this way. If you have seen a video how, for instance, the very fast Google book scanning system works, it is impressive, but very expensive and requires pages to be ripped from the books.

Canadian book lover (and obviously a talented tinkerer) Mohib has spent a long time building a book scanner that is fast enough for mass scanning of books, but economical and easy to build at home. Now, Mohib’s Tiflic Book Scanner has reached a milestone where the system can scan 900-1100 book pages per hour. This is achieved without having to destroy the books. In effect, you are able to scan 2 – 5 books an hour. After the initial investment, you get that many ebooks for free every hour you have time to flip pages on the system.

How does the Tiflic Book Scanner work? It is not a fully automatic system, but you have to flip the next page for the scanner. But maybe you can read a book, listen to music or watch a movie while flipping pages. Other than, the system operates autonomously once it is set up.

The best way to get an idea how the scanner works is to watch this video:

If you want a Tiflic scanner, you have to build it yourself. Mohib has shared very detailed instructions how to build a Tiflic scanner here (a PDF document). Plenty of information and questions and answers have been posted on this forum page.

The main components of the book scanner are:
– A smartphone with a decent camera. Mohib used an Apple iPhone 4.
– Hardware that holds the camera.
– Page flip mechanism.
– Application for the smartphone to take photos.
– Bluetooth trigger for the smartphone for taking the photos at the right moment.
– Software for processing the photos, and perhaps an OCR application that converts images of pages into text.

Let us and Mohib know if you have managed to build a Tiflic scanner yourself. Maybe we fetch our paper books from a warehouse and build one for the Klaava office as well.

Via ActuaLitte.

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