It used to be that cell phones were only for making calls. Then, as computers got smaller, faster, and more efficient, the computers in cell phones got more powerful. Now, they can not only take pictures, they can do image processing.
This article describes a new capability: not only to photograph a page of text, but to digitally combine several photographs and scan the text for later reading. This is quite a lot of functionality for a handheld computer.
Discussion of copyright issues takes up two-thirds of the article. Apparently, commuters in Japan have already been using their phones to photograph the last few paragraphs of articles they don't have time to finish reading. Now, they'll be able to scan whole pages. And newsstand owners are upset about this. So, instead of shrink-wrapping publications that they don't want people to be able to read without buying, they are building audible alarms into the phones, so that they can tell when they're being used to scan text.
There are several trends worth noticing here. First, technology has shrunk to the point that people can easily carry around a full-service computer.
Second, centuries-old laws and legal concepts are being used to try to control popular uses of technology.
Third, personal electronic devices are being built to tattle on their users.
None of these trends is a surprise; they've all been developing for years, and will continue to develop for the foreseeable future. But it's interesting to see them juxtaposed in one article.
Molecular manufacturing, of course, will accelerate each of these trends. When combined and taken to an extreme, they imply a future that is truly Orwellian.