NEWTEC and University of Southern Denmark combine knowledge and technology for common benefit.

In bindings of 16th and 17th century books, rare fragments of medieval manuscripts may be found. These fragments are impossible to gain access to without destroying the valuable books. This dilemma means choosing between knowledge about medieval texts and preserving rare books from the 16th and 17th century. However new technology from an unforeseen front has provided new access to the fragments without disrupting the books.

NEWTEC develops and produces high-quality weighing, packing, and optical sorting machinery for the food industry. As part of the sorting, fruits and vegetables are scanned to localize spots and diseases inside the fruits and vegetables. This technique is continuously developed and improved but as spots inside vegetables are not well defined regarding size and edges, it may be difficult to ensure that the entire spot has been localized when testing the technique.

Letters however are very well defined. This makes hidden text a great test of the scanning quality. Through a collaboration between Newtec and the library at University of Southern Denmark, Newtec has used hyper spectral imaging technology to scan 16th and 17th century books in the near infrared spectrum. This has revealed texts from the parchments hidden in the covers of the books in a quality enabling Latin phrases to appear. Through data mining, these phrases where distinct enough to lead to a hypothesis as to the specific genre – a missal.

Through this unusual collaboration, Newtec had a great testing object (even though the testing was ofcourse still done on foods to ensure the quality of the machinery) and the library gained knowledge about the text, that would normally be unobtainable without destroying the old books.


Open Science?

The collaboration between Newtec and The library of University of Southern Denmark was not an open science project, however many similarities are seen.

In open science we utilize the competences and equipment found throughout the community. We approach challenges and questions from nontraditional angles and  we recognize techniques from other fields as possible future techniques in our own field. Furthermore, we believe in mutual benefit in collaborations across industrial and scientific borders. This is exactly what happened in the collaboration between Newtec and the library at SDU.

With this story, we will encourage you all to join in new collaborations across professional boarders. And when you have done this, please tell us about it!


Read more about the findings here (in Danish):