Techworld, relying on a article in Arab News, is reporting on an apparent breakthrough in printed data storage, Rainbow Technology, invented by a 24 year old student in India, Sainul Abideen. According to Arab News the Rainbow Versatile Disk
. . . can store 90 to 450 GB. . . .instead of using zeroes and ones . . use[s] geometric shapes such as circles, squares and triangles for computing which combine with various colors and preserve the data in images. An RVD therefore looks like a printout of modern art. . . . [a] paper or plastic-made RVD will cost just about [$0.04] and has 131 times more storage capacity.
Boy, I wish this was for real
Rainbow technology would be really cool, if it was real. That is a considered opinion, looking at the problem in a couple of ways.
First, Mr. Abideen suggests printing the code in magazines. Modern offset presses used to print magazines operate at about 300 dpi, or about 8.7 million dots on an A4 sheet, or 35 million dots with four color printing. There is no lossless way to compress 256 GB (or 2 trillion bits) of data into 35 million dots, or even 35 billion dots. It is the storage equivalent of perpetual motion.
Second, as Mr. Chris Mellor at Techworld points out in his blog, Xerox PARC has already done a fair bit of research into the idea of using printed glyphs for digital data. One idea, using glyphs to replace dots in half-tone photographs, allows digital data to be transmitted with an image. David L. Hecht, in his excellent paper Printed Embedded Data Graphical User Interfaces calculates his glyph information capacity this way:
The example code in Figure 1 provides m= 1 raw bit per glyph and, with five-by- five pixel glyph cells at 300 dpi, contains 3,600 raw bits per square inch. The synchronization frame uses one of each 15 row and column patterns, leaving about 400 bytes per square inch for data and error correction. Naturally, smaller-scale printing increases glyph code data density. Glyph codes generally have data density comparable to high-performance two- dimensional barcodes at similar printing and scanning resolutions.
3.6kb is far short of 1GB. I’m afraid Mr. Abideen has misplaced a few decimal points in his calculations.
A pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow
Regretfully, I must reject Mr. Abideen’s claims. I’d love to see much cheaper storage chugging out of my laser printer. It just won’t be Rainbow Technology.
Comments welcome, of course, especially those dissenting or enlarging. All storageheads should look at the Hecht paper, there are some pretty cool ideas in it.
Update Chris Mellor does a fine job deconstructing these claims from several perspectives in this article. Now I really hope the guy is right, but there is no way.
Well, personally I think the idea could work. Spacial interpretation goes further than a 1 on 1 relationship of byte and colored dot, that hás to be, otherwise it will never work.
As has been pointed out and calculated, a 1 on 1 relationship of colored dots and bytes will most probably won’t be how it’s done. The 4,7 Gb per Inch seems incredibly high, but I think you do need the whole paper to get that little part decoded into 4,7Gb of information, otherwise it seems very unlikely.
We must not forget by the way, that there have been previous storage compression inventions that had remarkable results, even some older kinds of technology seem to be able to extend their lives with enough research. Take for example Sun’s tape and it’s “record breaking” amount of storage.. yes, we are talking about petabytes here .. on tape .. 🙂 ( source: http://research.sun.com/minds/2006-0608/ )
I’d love to agree, and I just can’t. While one might imagine a pictographic system with 10,000 variations, including color, shape, width, etc., at some point those pictographs have to be rendered. Since the guy was reported to say that these could be printed in magazines, we’re talking about well-known processes that have definite limits: resolution, color, registration and more.
He was reported to have said that he could get 2 terabits on a single A4 sheet of paper, and short of holography, which is not a magazine printing processs, the resolution just doesn’t exist.
I’d love to be proven wrong and I hope I am. Yet based on what has been reported, and I know how shaky reporters can be, it doesn’t just seem difficult, it seems impossible.
if you could theoretically store this much data on a printed sheet of paper, then this would leave one to think that if it was possible, a raw image on an A4 sheet of paper would be 256 GB.
One would think so.
And it appears that holography could get more than 256GB on an A4 sheet – if it were a few millimeters thick.
I am Sainul Abideen. Rainbow Starage is my work.
Please read article on my web page http://www.kerlontech.com/RandD.html
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