Piql offers a unique futureproof storage of digital information in one of the coldest places on the planet.
Norwegian tech company transforms an analogue medium to store digital information
300meters below the surface of Svalbard, an icy Norwegian archipelago nearly a thousand kilometres from the North Pole, sits a climate controlled bunker, designed to safeguard our digital heritage. Developed by Norwegian tech company Piql and mine operator Store Norske Spitsbergen Kulkompani or SNSK for short, the Arctic World Archive houses data stored on photosensitive film for a few early adopters, in the hopes that one day it could be home to the most important information of mankind.
With EUR 27 million invested in research, supported by the EU and the Norwegian government, Piql has managed to develop a unique solution for migration-free digital preservation. They have used the latest nanotechnologies to convert photo-sensitive film into a digital preservation medium for the future, where data can be written as highdensity QR-codes, visual images or a combination of the two.
Back in 2002, a group of people with a background in digital imaging, came together to found Piql during a transitive time where more and more movies were being produced digitally, while cinemas still only projected 35mm analogue film. Piql’s vision was to bridge the gap between the digital and analogue worlds. They did so by developing a digital film recorder, the Cinevator, which was able to print movies up to 100 times faster, and with better image quality, than the competition. Sound and subtitles were able to be added simultaneously rather than in subsequent steps, which was the industry standard at the time. All of this propelled Cinevator as the gold standard in digital film print and they are used to this day by film labs and post production companies all over the world.
In 2007, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – known for the Oscars – published the ‘Digital Dilemma’ report, which addressed the challenges related to securing long term access to the motion picture industry’s most valuable assets; the movies.
“Investigation into this issue made it clear that the threat of data loss is not unique to the motion picture industry – the same is faced by all industries and sectors that deal in valuable digital data, both in the private and public sectors. A new application for Piql’s expertise in digital imaging was found; securing future access to valuable data by using photosensitive film as a digital storage medium,” says Piql’s Managing Director, Rune Bjerkestrand.
Based on the core technology used in Cinevator, it took another 10 years and EUR 27 million invested in R&D to come up with a scalable solution that caters for the complex needs of data preservation.
According to Piql’s website, storing data to piqlFilm is just as easy as storing to any other device or in the cloud, the only difference being in the security, integrity and longevity they offer.
The first step is to transfer the digital data. Piql accepts all file formats, ranging from pure text documents to images, as well as audio-visual contents. Next, the digital data and metadata is written onto the secure, migrationfree preservation medium with proven long-term qualities, the high-resolution micrographic film.
The client is able to store the film reel with their local Piql Services provider, at an independent location of their choosing, or choose the most
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