The most interesting device from “Thing From the Future” was the Glove Book Scanner. With entire worlds and species being destroyed in a manner of days, technologies and information are disappearing with them. In order to recover this information, the people of Iphos can collect books from the dead planets, but it’s unrealistic and too time consuming to collect a bunch of books. Instead they can use scanners that are attached to gloves on their hands.
By simply passing the scanner over a book or a group of books, you can do a complete 3D scan of the pages. The scanner would need to be able to distinguish between the paper and the ink on the paper. Then by also measuring the small gaps of air between the pages you could also discern the thickness of the pages. With this data you could interpret the 3D scan into individual pages and all the information that is on them without ever having to open the book!
The whole process would take only a couple of seconds. The orientation of the book shouldn’t matter either so you can simply sweep your hand across a bookshelf.
The method is not entirely science fiction. New scanning techniques have been able to “peel the layers” of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings to reveal how he often fiddled with his paintings before settling on the final version. For example “Lady with an Ermine” didn’t even have an ermine in the first version.