Scanning with your cell phone


Mobile technology is about to get one of those jolts that open up avenues of utility the full implications of which can’t even be imagined.  The Xerox Research Centre Europe in Grenoble, France, has perfected technology that lets any cell phone camera with at least a 1 megapixel resolution scan documents.  Any document of a normal page size can be scanned with just your cell phone.  Think of the implications of this for just a moment.  No longer will you need a scanner to get documents into your computer for archiving, or for including in an email as an attachment.  Mobile professionals will be the primary beneficiaries of such technology but it won’t be restricted to just those individuals.  It will be possible for anyone with a camera to archive any document they get in their hands.  I believe this will have a major impact on the way we do business.

The software that Xerox has developed performs some sophisticated image adjustments that correct blurriness and shadows that occur in almost all camera phone images, then compresses the image into a very small file format called Fax Group 4 or G4.  The resultant image can then be faxed from the phone, or sent to another phone or computer using a Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).  The image can also be sent over a Bluetooth connection meaning it can instantly be transmitted almost anywhere to anybody.  Once on a computer it can be run through OCS software to turn it into an editable document.  You will have to be careful what is lying on your desk when you leave the room with someone else present.

One use I immediately see for this technology is putting hooks into the Tablet PC so that these document image files can be worked in OneNote or Windows Journal.  You could capture a document with your cellphone, shoot it into the Tablet PC and mark it up, run OCR, whatever you want.  This would be incredible.  Of course, the possibility that any camera phone can scan any document lying around will likely end up in a total corporate ban of all camera phones in every office.

(via CNET)


Rob Hyndman

What a cool idea. Build a camera into the Tablet itself. Eg a revolving-rotating webcam / still cam built into the lid.

But what a spooky development for the industrial espionage wonks.


Mike, you’re missing the point. Click. Full page of text. Click. Another full page of text. Click. Third full page of text. See the implications? Pen scanners and portable scanners have been around forever but they require scanning a few lines at a time and also some sort of cable for connection to a particular device, whether PDA as in your case or computer.

This phone technology means in maybe 4 or 5 seconds I can scan a full page contract on your desk and send it to my buddy in Hong Kong for examination. See it now?

Mike Cane

Why wait? — I have the QuickLink Pen and have been using it for over, I think, 3-4 years now. I have scanned, no exaggeration, over a MEG of text with it. I scan and beam to my PalmOS PDA for cleanup. Works very well (depending on typeface, I can go as high as 99.9% accuracy; with some artsy type, down to 50%!). It comes with a serial cable. Although they have a USB cable listed under Accessories, I’ve not tried that. Look at their FAQ for that.

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