I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to an item like this, but there’s just something about it that I find fascinating, involving Amazon’s Kindle and Legos.
A university professor in Austria has released the video below, showing how he has automated a low-tech approach to bypassing the digital rights management system on the Kindle.
His name is Peter Purgathofer, and he’s an associate professor at the Vienna University of Technology.
Using Lego’s Mindstorms — a basic robotics kit popular with hobbyists — plus a Kindle and a Mac, he has assembled a way to photograph what’s on the screen, and then submit it to a cloud-based text-recognition service.
When you think of it, it’s sort of a combination of high-tech meets low. The scanning is done by way of the Mac’s iSight camera. The Mindstorms set does two things: Hits the page-advance button on the Kindle (it appears to be an older model, like the one in the picture above), then mashes the space bar on the Mac, causing it to take a picture.
And while the video doesn’t show exactly what’s running on the Mac, it could easily be Photo Booth combined with a script that auto-submits the pictures to pretty much any free optical-character-recognition service, like maybe, FreeOCR.
I reached out to Purgatofer to ask a little more about this, but haven’t heard back yet. On his Vimeo page, he describes this as a “provocative thought experiment,” and not an invitation or instruction on how to carry it out.
I also reached out to Amazon for a comment, and will update this post if it offers one.