Kindle Plus Legos Plus Mac Equals DIY Scanner (video)

Kindle Plus Legos Plus Mac Equals DIY Scanner (video) Digitization Do you like Rube Goldberg machines? Do you like to bypass DRM? Then you'll love this DIY project.

One hacker with too much time on his hands has built a one-of-a-kind book scanner out of a Lego Mindstorms kit, a Kindle, and a Macbook. And yes, it does look as strange as the components list makes it sounds:

This scanner combines a script running on the Mindstorm with a second script running on the Macbook. The Mindstorm is responsible for turning the page on the Kindle and then pressing the space bar on the Macbook.

That triggers the script running on the Macbook to take a photo with the webcam and then automatically forward the photo to an online OCR service, which then converts the text on the screen of the Kindle to a text file and then sends it back to the hacker. By the time the project has run its course it will have copied  the DRMed ebook into a text file (or collection of files).

This scanner is the work of Peter Purgathofer, and there was a reason I called it a Rube Goldberg machine. It's pretty easy these days to strip the DRM from an ebook, so this project doesn't really have much of a purpose beyond finding a new and more convoluted way to bypass DRM.

But I like Rube Goldberg machines. so it's still pretty cool.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

4 Comments

  1. thomass7 September, 2013

    This could be evolved a remote page turner for Kindles. (even for touch ones )

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder7 September, 2013

      That would be a good use, I agree.

      Reply
  2. Ansgar Warner11 September, 2013

    Interestingly, by partly mimicking the photcopying of printed books, Purgathofer’s robot doesn’t seem to break German copyright law. (Okay, Austrian law, but Austria is just a legal copy of Germany anyway.) The “Urheberrechts-Gesetz” allows to copy intellectual property for private use if there are no “effective technical measures” that would stop you. Like iTunes automatically ripping CDs, for example. But the Mindstorms Machine is even more basic: what could technically stop you from putting the kindle on a photocopier or a flatbed scanner…?

    Reply
  3. […] was developed by engineers who were clearly inspired by a book scanner made up of a Macbook, a Kindle, and Legos (some people are lucky enough to never have to grow up) […]

    Reply

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