May 6, 2004

Recording Preservation [9:18 am]

Of course, there’s still the question of digital format and media preservation, but it’s a cool technology: Playing Old Records (No Needle Required)

The method involves no contact with the recording surface. After the camera does its work, image-processing algorithms take over, detecting scratches or spots of dust and deleting them. Then software simulates the stylus motion, and the results are converted to a digital sound format.

“The advantage of the method is that it is completely noncontact,” extracting information from the groove by mapping the surface, Dr. Haber said. “You take these pictures and it’s purely a software issue of how the recording is processed after that,” he said.

[...] One day a few years ago, a radio program that caught their attention prompted them to consider a new application. “We heard a show on National Public Radio on the problems of preserving delicate recordings of the past,” Dr. Haber said. He wondered whether the precision methods the group used for particle detectors might be of use. “Why not just measure the shape of the grooves on the surface?” Dr. Haber said, and then pose the question to a software program: what would a needle do?

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