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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 robbie1687 on 11/25/2006 11:27:02 AM , Rating: 2
Two mistakes keep cropping up in this thread. First, the fact that dots are combined into symbols has nothing to do with the amount of information that can be encoded. Second, this "invention" has nothing to do with compression. It has to do with storage capacity. (One way of thinking about the second issue is to assume the data was previously compressed as much as possible.)

As with all digital data, the amount that can be stored by this technology can be measured in bits. This is independent of whether the bits are arranged in symbols or hex numbers or anything else. In this case the maximum number of bits is the number of dots that can be both printed AND read accurately by the scanner, multiplied by the number of possible colors for each dot, minus some factor that has to be reserved for error correction.

To estimate the maximum amount of data that could be encoded, let's assume (very liberally) that the maximum number of dots per inch that can be printed AND read accurately by the scanner is 4000 dots per inch. (This is an extremely generous estimate because even though scanners can measure 4000 points per inch, the points won't usually line up with the dots). And let's assume that the printer can print a dot in 6 possible colors (including white as a color). And let's assume that the printed area is 8 " x 10.5". Then the maximum number of bits on the page (aside from error correction) is:

16 mllion bits per square inch x 84 square inches x 6 colors = 8.065 billion bits = 1 billion bytes

So the maximum data capacity, even before we subtract a chunk for error correction, is less than one gigabyte.

But in fact the real capacity would be less because the scanner won't be in alignment with the dots. Think of a the read/write head of a hard disk. It prints exactly like a printer, except that the dots have only two colors (magnetized and de-magnetized). And it reads dots just like the scanner. Except the hard disk has a single read/write head that is designed to stay in alignment with the dots on the disk. The scanner will not be in alignment with the dots on the page. Therefore the actual density of dots that can be successfuly read by the scanner will be lower than what I just assumed in the calculation.

RE: Sure
By vorgusa on 11/27/2006 10:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah they would have to make a bigger dot to guarantee that the scanner would be able to read every bit of information correctly, and this is assuming that once you get to the size that is required to get 450Gb you would probably start having problems with distortion of the paper, since it obviously will start getting bumpy or porous zoomed in that much. and I would assume that touching the paper in any way would probably ruin the information with the oils on your skin. I would assume that there would be better ways of storing information then on paper

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