E-books, iPads and Kindles may be the way of the future, but most of the world's knowledge is still stored in millions of good old paper books on library shelves. So researchers at Miami University have created an augmented reality app that makes all those books easier to organize. ShelvAR instantly analyzes an entire shelf, spots any misplaced books, and shows librarians the quickest way to put the books back in order.
ShelvAR consists of an Android app and a set of coded tags, representing call numbers, that are placed on books' spines. When a librarian holds a smartphone or tablet camera up to a shelf, the app reads all the tags at once, thanks to a new algorithm that can decipher multiple patterns even though they're small when viewed at a distance. Then the app uses a simple sorting method—at least for computers, which aren't fazed by complex letter-digit combos like Q164 .G72 2009--to figure out the correct order and the shortest number of moves needed to achieve it. The phone's screen displays red X's over any misfiled books, along with arrows that show where they really belong.
The prototype app, built by computer science professor Bo Brinkman and research assistant Matt Hodges, has successfully analyzed a dozen books with half-inch tags. The team is now working on scaling up to 75 to 150 quarter-inch-thin books, so that they can scan a full shelf in one shot, and in December, they'll test the app in part of the university library. Adding ShelvAR tags could save libraries time and money in the long run, since workers now do frequent shelf checks by hand.
If all goes well, a beta version of ShelvAR will be released next spring. Librarians are already envisioning other uses for the technology, Brinkmann tells us, such as displaying a star rating over recommended books or helping lost students find the book they're looking for.
Thats great and all, but it looks as though every single book would have to get a new sticker. Sure, that might be nice for town libraries and the like where theres not many books, but for university libraries holding FLOORS of books this system would be difficult to implement. Cool application of Augmented Reality though!
@eregorn8: True, but it only needs to be implemented once, and then it's good forever. Any software updates just need to be designed to work with the same tags. So paying the librarians overtime for a month or so gets evened out in wages not spent on organizing books.
-IMP ;) :)
I go to Miami University and news has it they are going to try this in our libraries soon. They are doing some really cool stuff here ;-)
This has been tried with RFID tags and scanners that not only id'd the correct order, but also helped librarians id where to shelve books returned by patrons.
There were a few libraries that really liked it ( mainly academic), but it never really seemed to catch on.
One thing to note -- one real problem is an item shelved a couple of shelves away -- not one misfiled a few inches away on the same shelf. People can usually find one that's that close.
I think probably the biggest obstacles to technology like this is all of the people content with leading drone lives filled with busy work such as sorting books and placing them on shelves.
We should have shelf-robots in libraries that scoot around the shelves on rails, can scan/sort the books, and can take them off and drop them in a bin for patrons.
Then we can fire all the damn librarians and retrain them do something actually useful for society.
B.V. Do you realize that aside from prostitute, librarian is probably one of the oldest professions on the planet? As long as there has been written language used to record history and knowledge there have been those people responsible for storing, sorting, cataloging, and preserving that knowledge for future use. With out librarians the world as we know it would not exist at all. No science, no math, no liturature, limited religion. All of them rely on books to keep the knowledge relatively acurate and safe. Just a thought before you go bashing librarians who do much more than 'file' books in the major libraries. You could also replace librarian with keeper of knowledge and get a better idea of the point of the profession.
There are many "old professions" that have been rendered obsolete by technological advanced.
"Scribe" used to be a profession even older than librarian... then we came up with the printing press, and didn't need scribes any more.
You could also replace "scribe" with "transmitter of knowledge" and get a better idea of the point of the profession.
Sorry if you/your loved one(s) are librarians... but fact is, Google replaced librarians for their "knowledge" aspects a long time ago...
Are you suggesting instead of looking something up on my smartphone from the toilet, I instead should be forced to get up, drive to my local library and wait on a librarian to thumb through a card catalogue until s/he can find me a handful of books about my question which I will then have to read through to find the actual answer?
Oh yeah, that's way better. Only thing better than the convenience of a human implementation of a search/sort algorithm is the fact that my tax dollars pay for it...
I think you have missed the point. Librarians WANT to get rid of the pointless make work that is incumbent in the historic and antiquated idea of being a Librarian. The reason why is because being a Librarian is much more than just shelving books in the right order.
We ARE the front line in information age. We work hard to make sure those sites you link to in Google are up to date in databases and web pages for you to access. We constantly research new information and methods for transmitting it to you so that you can have up to the minuet access to the most current databases, online journals, and yes... books.
We provide top notch research assistance as well as providing an integrated service that ensures that you, the patron, are able to have accurate and relevant information at your fingertips.
Libraries and Librarians are not the archaic hacks you seem to be intimating that we are.
You might be content with your microwave information and might even be able to get by for a while on it. Yet, when you are ready to do some serious research on a topic foreign to you, we will be there. Ready and waiting to help you. Unbiased and happy to serve.
I've somehow completed 12yrs of school and 4 years of college without ever needing the services of a librarian.
I guess I must have never had to do any research ;)
When I tried to use librarians (this was when I was still in HS) it took them about 10 minutes to type my question into their library search engine only to find no books available about my topic (I was writing a biography on Carlos Castaneda).
When I got home and accessed their website (which also had the same search feature) I was able to find that they DID in fact have several books about Castaneda. I wrote down the numbers for the books I was looking for, came back to the library, told them the book numbers and watched the human book-retrieval machine, erm, librarian, set to work.
Maybe my few bad experiences with librarians have all been exceptions; there might be other libraries with awesome and tech-savvy librarians who seek to optimize information retrieval for their patrons.
If so, great! But IMO people who link up data sources and information networks are typically called IT Network Specialists, System Architects, and Database Administrators... not "Librarians".
The only person I've ever known to be interested in "Library Sciences" as a college major only talked about various book sorting and ordering techniques... and got pissed off (because it was "already hard enough to find a good librarian job") when I said I could write a software program that would sort/order/etc. the books faster and more efficiently than a human.
But again... maybe it's only me who's ever dealt with dull librarians hell-bent on getting paid a living wage to lug books around all day.