A library book spends much of its working life in the land of the lost—shelved in the wrong location, forgotten on a library table, overdue, on order, or just plain missing in action. Librarians now have a new book inventory and management system to fight back against scofflaws, slobs and absent-minded professors everywhere. Teijin Fibers Ltd., Tokyo, Japan, has introduced Cell Form™, a tracking system that allows tagged books to transmit radio frequencies that register at the library gate, check-out counter and appropriate shelf location. Field testing is underway at Chiba University Library, Chiba, Japan.
Cell Form confines electromagnetic waves to a cell within and around a thin, flat sheet. The sheet material, @CELL™, was developed by CELLCROSS Company Ltd., a spin-off venture from the University of Tokyo. A microwave signal transmitted through the sheet triggers a shorter-wavelength signal dispersed locally. The brief signal allows local communication among the tag on the book, the sheet on the shelf, the computer at the check-out desk and the security gates.