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Abideen claims to have placed a 45 second video clip on a single sheet of paper, with the possibility of up to 450GB on the horizon - Image courtesy Arab News
Rainbow technology still in the works but holds promise

According to a report from the Arab News, a university technology student named Sainul Abideen has invented a method of storing massive amounts of digital data on a plain piece of paper that he claims could store many times the capacity of the best Blu-ray or HD-DVD discs. In fact, Abideen says that his Rainbow technology can enable him to store from 90 to 450GB on a piece of paper. As far as a real life demonstration of a 450GB paper goes, the technology still needs development.

Abideen, who hails from the Kerala, India, claims that that his Rainbow system is better than a binary storage because instead of using ones and zeros to represent data, Abideen uses geometric shapes such as squares and hexagons to represent data patterns. Color is also used in the system to represent other data elements. According to Abideen, all that's required to read the Rainbow prints is a scanner and specialized software.

The reporter at Arab News claims to have seen 450 pages of fully printed foolscap being stored on a 4-square inch piece of Rainbow paper. The reporter also claimed that he was shown a 45-second video clip that was stored using the Rainbow system on a plain piece of paper. Interestingly, 45-seconds of video isn't a lot, and if the Rainbow system can store up to 450GB, then we need to be watching full length high-definition videos from a piece of paper.

One of the major advantages of the Rainbow system is the fact that it should cost a lot less to produce than typical polycarbonate DVD and CD discs. Abideen claims that huge databanks can be constructed out of Rainbow-based storage mediums. Although the main attraction is cheap paper right now, other media can use the Rainbow system too.

As of right now, Abideen's system is still under research at the Muslim Educational Society Engineering College and although no major companies have expressed interest, Abideen is confident of the system's future. According to the report, Aibdeen is hard at work at developing a Rainbow scanner that would be small enough for integration into notebook computers. If developed, a Rainbow printer will likely be next up.

In other high-capacity storage news, DailyTech previously reported that Hitachi-Maxell is in the progress of producing holographic media for shipment this year. Holographic storage is one of the biggest forward-looking storage technologies and holds a great deal of promise -- as well as data.

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RE: Sure
By Gunter on 11/24/2006 4:11:16 PM , Rating: -1
No, it can store up to 450GB of data, but the paper needs to be 100 miles long in that case :-)

RE: Sure
By ponytrack on 11/25/2006 11:07:17 AM , Rating: 5
Think about it like this, in binary there are only two characters 0 and 1, but if you convert that using software to shapes, and those shapes in different colors, if you use three shapes and 6 colors, already you have 18 characters plus a blank character. Then compare 2^10 (binary) and 19^10 (rainbow) and thats how many bits of information each would have with equivalent space.

RE: Sure
By PrinceGaz on 11/25/06, Rating: 0
RE: Sure
By Shining Arcanine on 11/25/2006 12:18:20 PM , Rating: 2
PrinceGaz, your calculations are incorrect. The amount of data any amount of bits can hold is 2^n. For example, with two bits, you can have 4 different combinations of data (i.e. 00, 01, 10, 11) and 2^2 = 4. Your 2 x 10^n formula predicts 200 different pieces of information for two bits, which is wrong as there are only four different ways that you can utilize two bits.

Can you find any other combinations that two bits can form other than 00, 01, 10 and 11? If you cannot, then it stands to reason that the formula for a base-19 encoding scheme would be 19^n.

RE: Sure
By robbie1687 on 11/25/2006 12:25:38 PM , Rating: 2
In fact I fail to see how storing the information as coloured shapes could possibly have a higher data-density than simply using coloured dots...

You're right, it doesn't. The data capacity is the number of bits. The fact that the bits can be viewed in different ways (as composing symbols) is irrelevant.

Think of it this way. Eight bits can be permuted in 256 ways. That's why a byte (which is made of 8 bits) has 256 possible values.

Now we can think of a byte as a hex number. Or we can think of a byte as a color. Or we can think of a byte as a code for "circle", "square", "triangle", etc. But no matter how we think of that byte, it still contains only 8 bits, and it still can encode only 256 possibilities.

RE: Sure
By aGreenAgent on 11/29/06, Rating: 0
RE: Sure
By player x on 11/25/06, Rating: 0
RE: Sure
By 9nails on 11/27/2006 11:35:44 PM , Rating: 2
This logic has one flaw - mechanically, you can't print on the edge of the paper where you hold the most data. Also, printers don't print single shades of colors, they print in single color dots that "look" like a shade of colors if they are gapped on white paper. This means that you have to calculate the color for a larger region of paper, lowering your data density. Perhaps paper or laser printing will never be the solution to data storage.

RE: Sure
By Alpha4 on 12/1/2006 2:51:48 AM , Rating: 2
I do not think the first two posts deserve to be shunned so quickly.

I'm sure Digital Freak & Gunter both understand that on a theoretical level that one could conceivably fabricate a storage medium like this which can store 450GB of data, but based on how little the technology has progressed according to this article, 450GB seems to be an extremely unrealistic projection.

I choose to think of the inventor's over-eager prediction as tasteless hype.

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