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The Future of Data Storage?

future of storage

The Future of Data Storage?

Data storage has often been taken for granted, with seemingly unlimited amounts of storage available. However as companies grow and change to adapt to a paperless environment, this has got some people thinking about storing it all. But that’s where ‘Superman’ comes in. Well, not actually Superman, but something being dubbed the ‘Superman memory crystal’ – aptly named as it evokes images of the memory crystals featured in the 1980 film, ‘Superman II’.

How does it work?

The ‘Superman’ technology is the process of etching data into glass with a laser. In order to create these revolutionary crystals, researchers at the University of Southampton use femtosecond (one quadrillionth of a second!) laser writing which gives off short, intense pulses of light to inscribe information onto three layers of nanostructured dots which are five micrometres apart. This then uses self-assembling nanostructures which alter the path of light traveling through the glass so it can be read using an optical microscope and a polariser. With storage properties including a whopping 360 TB/disc data capacity, the crystal is unlike anything we have seen before.

Why is it useful?

According to the expert scientists who pioneered the crystal's design, it could be used for a whole host of storage needs. Ideal for scanning in historical documents, such as books, records and testaments, the technology means that future generations will be able to have access to our history at the click of a button – cementing our history and ensuring we will not be forgotten. Some of the documents that have already been scanned in include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Newton's Opticks, the Magna Carta and King James Bible. Additionally, and perhaps more valuable on a day-to-day basis, the technology could prove to be a game-changer for large organisations and corporations with a vast amount of files to maintain. Just like Superman, the crystal is pretty tough to destroy – boasting a thermal stability up to 1832 degrees Fahrenheit (1000 degrees Celsius). And even able to outlive the caped-crusader, it’s predicted that the crystal could last around 14 billion years.

Where next?

The technology first came about as part of a 2013 experiment, in which a quartz chip successfully recorded a 300 kb digital copy of a text file in 5D. Obviously developing a great deal in the last three years, the crystal could be one of the greatest developments of the 21st century. Further developing the technology, the team’s next goal is to increase the speed of writing and develop a microscope-free read-out drive by developing the technology similar to what is used for reading conventional CD/DVDs introducing the additional two dimensions.

The Digitisation of the Dead Sea Scrolls

dead sea scrolls

The Digitisation of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Discovered between 1946 and 1956, the Dead Sea Scrolls are arguably one of the most important set of documents of our time. Made up of 981 ancient manuscripts containing parts of what is now known as the Hebrew Bible, as well as a range of extra-biblical documents, they are some of the most important historical and religious documents to have ever been discovered.

First found by shepherd Muhammed Edh-Dhib as he searched for a stray along the limestone cliffs at Khirbet Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea, the shepherd found a mysterious collection of large clay jars which contained the old Scrolls. However due to their age, many of the Scrolls had been reduced to delicate fragments of parchment. But now, almost 2000 years after they were written, a new €1.6m project, which forms part of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, is using the latest imaging techniques – known as spectral imaging – and new software to fit the fragments together.

The project will use digital scanning technology to preserve the ancient documents which will transform the painstaking process of putting the tiny pieces of Scrolls together. The thousands of fragments are currently being scanned using high-definition, advanced imaging technology. Promising to reveal new information from the Scrolls, the ambitious project will piece together the fragments online – speeding up the lengthy process. Since the project started in 2012, researchers have been photographing each image in 28 exposures, already creating several terabytes of information.

Each fragment – many of which measure just a few millimetres – have been imaged on both sides in 12 different wavelengths of light (seven in the visible range and five in the near-infrared range). The computerised images of the Scroll fragments can be used to reveal text that was previously hidden in damaged sections and can also be matched up in order to uncover what they once said. An automated identification of words and letters will be used on the Scrolls to provide the possibility for advanced search options by helping to piece together the fragments into sentences and assist researchers in translating the texts.

Advanced digital tools are also being developed to help with the process. Looking for connections between images, text and matches between fragment edges, the new technology could change the face of scanning ancient documents forever. However with an estimated 20000 fragments due to be scanned in, it could take a while until the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls are revealed – even with advances in document scanning technology.

At Pearl Scan, we haven't been able to get a hold of the Dead Sea Scrolls ourselves, but we regularly scan and digitalise old and delicate books. Find out more about how we do it by clicking here. 

The Advantages of Scanning Records with OCR

OCR documents

The Advantages of Scanning Records with OCR

Gone are the days when scanning documents simply meant copying static pages onto a computer. Developments in technology now mean that document scanning can be truly useful by creating workable pieces of information, allowing for unlimited editing and saving – just as you would with any other electronic document.OCR (Optical Character Recognition) converts paper documents into fully editable electronic files, such as Excel spreadsheets, XML, CSV, Microsoft Word, and PDF searchable formats. By scanning the hard-copy to create a digital image, such as a JPEG, PDF, etc. the OCR is applied in order to change these images into an editable text format. Able to convert a whole host of paper documents, such as invoices, bank statements, medical notes, but to name a few, the OCR is infinitely useful to a range of businesses and sectors.

ocr medical

The Medical Industry

The medical industry has benefitted greatly from document scanning – primarily due to the sensitive nature of documents. Already helping thousands of NHS hospitals, GP surgeries, private medical trusts and dental surgeries to improve their patient record keeping, the Pearl Scan OCR technology goes one step further. A genuinely invaluable tool to ensure that healthcare providers have fast and easy access to patient records, a secure electronic backup, and complete disaster recovery, document scanning has transformed the way the healthcare system works. Paper documents are often misplaced and lost – particular within large organisations, however as medical paperwork often contains highly confidential information, the repercussions of losing paper documents can be catastrophic. By scanning in working documents, such as patient records, and allowing them to be fully-editable allows records to be constantly up to date, while minimising the need for paper, and as such, the chance they may fall into the wrong hands is significantly reduced.

OCR legal

The Legal Industry

The legal industry faces similar problems. Years of sensitive paper documents piled high with little to no order or system means that confidential paperwork is not secure. Easy to lose, misplace and accidentally dispose of, paper documents are more of a hindrance than a help to lawyers and solicitors everywhere. This is where OCR scanning really comes into its own, revolutionising the industry by creating an electronic catalogue of years’ worth of clients and casework. Legal cases can go on for years, with individuals having to re-visit paperwork time and time again over a period of time. By creating editable copies of paperwork, OCR scanning gives caseworkers the freedom to make additional notes as necessary as new information and evidence come to light, while keeping all important paperwork in once safe place with easy access for all as required.

To find out more about OCR scanning and how it can help your business transform the way it stores and shares files, click here.

How Does Digitisation Affect Data Protection Duties?

data protection

How Does Digitisation Affect Data Protection Duties?

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is defined as ‘an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which defines UK law on the processing of data on identifiable living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs the protection of personal data in the UK.’

‘Personal data’ means information which identifies any living individual or can, with other information held by you, identify any individual, and ‘processing of data’ means obtaining, recording or holding the information. Businesses in a whole range of sectors are often trusted with handling personal information. Whether that be information about their employees, customers, or the business itself, and if not handled correctly can result in persons being criminally liable for non-compliance.

employee personnel file

Digitising sensitive and personal files has long been discussed. As the world moves ever-closer towards a digital future, creating digital versions of HR files and other personal documents will become the norm – however as yet, many companies are hesitant to make the leap. That being said, for those that have made the switch, digitation has revolutionised the way personal data is stored; more secure, easy to find, amend and dispose of, digital data is certainly where the corporate world is heading. So what are the operational and day to day benefits for companies?

  • As employees come and go, it can be extremely time-consuming sifting through endless reams of paper finding the correct personnel folder to dispose of. Digitising these documents for almost instant access frees up time and allows for employees to concentrate on the task in hand.
  • Just as searching for hard copies of paper documents can be time-consuming, so can disposing of them. Digitising makes removing documents as easy as can be, at the click of a button. Shredding on the other hand can take up a lot of precious time that could be spent elsewhere.
  • Storing potentially hundreds of hard copies of files is not only a logistical nightmare, but there’s no guarantee that it’s safe. Paper folders and files can be quickly lost or stolen, falling into the wrong hands, which can cause a huge problem for those involved. By storing files online however, these documents can be encrypted and protected via multiple passwords – making the chance that they will fall into the wrong hands extremely unlikely.

Digitising documents is also of immense benefit to the environment. Reducing our carbon footprint is high on the government agenda for the next few years, so by making the leap now, businesses are leading the way.

To find out more about our scanning services, click here.

Why Scan X-rays?

xray scanning

Why Scan X-rays?

At Pearl Scan, we specialise in digitising almost any paper or microfilm document. We operate a secure and trustworthy business and work closely with the healthcare industry, not only in scanning medical documents, but scanning microfilm X-rays too. Pearl Scan can digitise a wide range of sized X-rays, from 14”x 17” down to 44mm. Services like this can help towards a challenge set by health secretary Jeremy Hunt in 2013, suggesting the NHS to go fully paperless.

Whilst it may seem like an unnecessary or unusual application for our services, there are many reasons as to why medical institutions should consider scanning their X-rays:

Quicker remote access

Once a document has been scanned and digitised, it can be easily filed within a document management software such as Halogen. This software allows the user to store the files in an indexed format, making large amounts of documents easily retrievable. Software like this can be installed on virtually all major operating systems, giving users in multiple locations instant access to the extensive library inside. Using this method to store medical records, such as X-rays would save vital time for medical professionals when needing to send X-rays to other hospitals for inspection. Even without use of the storing software, if an X-ray is turned into PDF format it can be instantly sent anywhere via email or other intranet based platforms, saving time when requiring a second look to assist in finding a medical solution.

xray scanBetter long term preservation

Microfilm is prone to erosion over time, so no matter how efficient an existing physical filing system may be, factors such as this prove an obstacle in preserving medical records for extended periods of time. Digitising important documents such as X-rays can ensure the details are never lost, allowing them to provide accurate information whenever they are needed for reference.

Space is freed up

The amount of X-rays that are produced on a daily basis are high, with X-rays being a vital part of medical diagnosis and treatment. As such, the sheer volume of physical documents produced can present hospitals with significant storage challenges. When scanning a document to digital format, the physical element is taken away, meaning you can store as much as your electronic device can hold – and in today’s world, this is virtually limitless! Cluttered and disorderly filing cabinets can be replaced with a streamline virtual document storage system.

Find out more about X-ray scanning.