Reasons behind storing data in glass and holograms

Reasons behind storing data in glass and holograms

The year 2039 may seem far off, but for Ian Crawford, chief information officer at the Imperial War Museum, it’s already on the horizon. As the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War Two, 2039 will be a significant milestone for the museum, prompting the need to digitize its extensive collection of historical images, audio, and film. With over 24,000 hours of film and 11 million photographs to manage, the task is monumental.

As the countdown to 2039 begins, preserving World War II material becomes a top priority. The urgency to create digital backups of these invaluable historical sources is critical as the original copies degrade over time and risk being lost forever. Ian Crawford emphasizes the importance of a reliable storage system to ensure the long-term preservation of this data.

In a world where data is exponentially growing, organizations across all industries are faced with the challenge of storing massive amounts of information. Traditional data centers are not equipped for long-term storage, leading many businesses to turn to tape storage methods, such as Linear Tape Open (LTO) systems, like LTO-9. These systems, including the one used at the Imperial War Museum, are cost-effective and proven to be reliable for extended data retention.

However, innovative solutions are emerging to revolutionize long-term data storage. Start-up HoloMem is developing a system that uses lasers to create holograms in a light-sensitive polymer, offering greater data capacity and durability compared to magnetic tape. This modern approach aims to surpass existing storage technology with enhanced data security and lifespan.

Similarly, Microsoft is exploring new frontiers with Project Silica, leveraging glass as a storage medium for long-term data preservation. By storing data in glass voxels, Microsoft envisions a robust system capable of storing vast amounts of information for potentially hundreds of years, setting a new standard for data longevity.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing a role in the management of digital libraries, as demonstrated by the Imperial War Museum’s AI testing to identify Spitfire models in image catalogs. The efficiency of AI in sorting through vast amounts of data underscores the importance of data preservation, with potential valuable insights waiting to be discovered within the archives.

As the digital landscape evolves, the race to find the most efficient, cost-effective, and reliable long-term data storage solutions intensifies. With technology advancements and innovative approaches like holographic storage and glass-based systems on the horizon, the future of data preservation holds exciting possibilities for safeguarding valuable historical records and unlocking new insights.