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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: blah
By Suomynona on 11/24/2006 7:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
Feasibility test:
I have just scanned an A4 size image into lossless 24-bit BMP at 300 dpi. It produced a 26 MB file. Doubling the resolution makes it over 100 MB, still far away from the GB range. This invention is flawed at its root:
- I do not see how you could increase the capacity by using shapes like circles and XYgons. Color dots are your best bet.
- you can NOT practically increase capacity by using greater color depth. To reliably retrieve more info stored in color, one would require ALL printers and scanners with unprecedented calibration, e.g. the shade of orange printed on ALL printers MUST be read on ALL scanners as the exact same 24-bit color.
- you can NOT practically increase resolution. Depending on the placement of paper, the info could be read back in different ways, for example.

- on the other hand, you COULD add redundant recovery information, like in RAR, which decreases capacity but increases readability in case of bad media.


All in all, we will either never hear of this "invention" again (as he will not be able to produce working prototypes), or we will, but in a scandal...

Macro-world (like printed stuff) will never reach the "information stored per square inch" ratio of the micro-world (a bunch of electrons in a memory cell).


RE: blah
By mpb on 11/24/2006 10:22:10 PM , Rating: 4
Assuming you have a REALLY high quality printer that can print at 4800 x 2400 dpi, and you're doing a full bleed print onto 8.5 x 11 paper, there's the potential to have over 1 billion dots on that piece of paper.

Encoding 1 gigabits though, even under ideal situation of a printer that maintains that print resolution, and a scanner that can perfectly read it, you'd need either some sort of laser alignment, or you'd need to have "stop" bits, perhaps only using every other "bit" on the paper so that an encoded "11111" wouldn't just be an indistinguishable line.

Using shapes to represent various bit patterns, like saying that a square would be 1011 and a circle is 1100 and triangle is 0011, etc. would be one way to encode data into unique identifiable patters, but then creating those shapes requires probably at least an 8x8 dot area, so you've just reduced the number of "patterns" per page from 1 billion to 16.8 million (each patters being 64 dots).

If you were able to come up with 16 shapes that could be uniquely identified, without misidentifying problems like mistaking a hexagon for a circle, then you can use each shape to represent a 4 bit number... hooray. However I'm not sure how many unique shapes you can squeeze into an 8x8 matrix before it gets harder to distinguish...

So each pattern can represent 4 bits, putting you at about 64 megabits on the paper.

Using colors, let's say an 8 color mix to start although you wouldn't be able to use white if you're using white paper, you're looking at squeezing another 3 bits into each pattern, for 7 bits total (16 shapes, 8 colors).

That still only gets you about 118 megabits per page of paper.

Now, that's assuming ideal conditions, an unrealistically high printer and scanner accuracy, etc.

The ONLY way you're going to get 450GB per page is if you think you can print in millions of colors accurately enough that a perfectly tuned scanner would read that color back just as accurately, letting you encode each shape and color with far more than the 7 bits I hypothetically mention.

Since 450GB is 3.6 terabits, we're talking about taking those 1 billion dots on the paper and using shapes/colors to squeeze another 3342 times as much info. That's a pretty amazing feat if possible and I don't think this "invention" is anything new...

Someone mentioned a magazine that used to print a bar-code like thing in it's articles that included source code. You could use their special scanner to import that code into your system, saving you all that typing. I think that was PC Magazine or something back in the late 80's or something similar. Cool when it worked, but when the price of CD's/floppies and especially online access came around, the concept wasn't necessary anymore. And you couldn't really encode all that much on a page, but I guess by 1980's standards it may have seemed like a lot.


RE: blah
By bunnyfubbles on 11/25/2006 12:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
Even if it could work, imagine the read/write times...

Then there's durability. With discs you have to worry somewhat about scratches, but with paper, what happens when it is easily distorted/faded by simple sunlight or perhaps is folded or crinkled slightly?


RE: blah
By robbie1687 on 11/25/2006 1:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
creating those shapes requires probably at least an 8x8 dot area, so you've just reduced the number of "patterns" per page

Exactly. You seem to be the only person here who understands that symbols divide the bit capacity into cunks. They don't increase the capacity. Everybody else seems to think the symbols magically multiply the number of bits. They are making the same mistake as somebody who thinks 32 ounces of gasoline magically turns into 96 ounces when you pour it into the tank, because those ounces can be divided into 4 cups or two pints or one quart, and those units add up to 96 ounces.

quote:
The ONLY way you're going to get 450GB per page is if you think you can print in millions of colors accurately enough

But here you're making that same mistake yourself in a different form (with regard to color instead of shape) because the printer is able to print millions of colors only by combining dozens of spots of ink, and the ink comes in far fewer colors. It's the individual spots of ink and the number of colors of ink that determines the bit content. Combining those things into units (in this case, the combined unit is a pixel) doen't add capacity. It merely divides the existing capacity into a chunk.


RE: blah
By Wwhat on 11/25/2006 8:54:52 PM , Rating: 2
There's one thing not taken into account with your example, you can also use the relative position of symbols to eachother to expand the data, the same way RAR's compress data, as a simple example if you for instance say 'X' represents 'now follows a sequence' and then the next byte says what byte and the next how many times, then you can represent 256 bytes with just 3 bytes of data like 'XA256' equals 256 A's.
Of course that only works for sequences of similar characters in this example, but that might be the joke here, will this work for uncompressible information?
And even when using compressible information the claim of such sizes seems impossible unless you use a new algorithm that could just as well be used to expand the datacapacity of say DVD's.


RE: blah
By oTAL on 11/26/2006 5:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
If that's the case then it incorrectly presented.
You should always give a media true capacity... that would be like seeling a 600GB HD and when you bought it you'd find out it was really 300GBs and you'd have to activate NTFS compression and use only a selected few types of files in order to achieve 600GBs...
I believe this is not the case or this would be a truely disgusting spin on the researcher's part. Storage technology and compression technology are two different (obviously very related) areas and should not be confused or used to confuse.


RE: blah
By ElJefe69 on 11/27/2006 2:07:04 PM , Rating: 1
what the hell is wrong with compression? all data is stored in some sort of compression and read in some sort of compression. nothing is read in nonsensical 1's and 0's and understood as that. HDrive Compression is just a top down after the fact form compressing information. Also, colours and symbols are way beyond that anyways.


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