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Pen-Sized Color Scanner Reviewed

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the other-kind-of-spyware dept.

125

moto writes "ThinkComputers has a review up of a cool pen-sized scanner, the Planon RC800 Portable Color Scanner. From the article: 'I've noticed one major constant about most technology, as it changes it gets smaller. Take scanners for instance, I have a few of them, an older one that is pretty big, you could use it for a computer case if need be, if I lined them up in order of age you would find that they get smaller as they get newer. Today for review I have the smallest scanner yet, it's from Planon, and they actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.'"

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125 comments

This is old news. (4, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752101)

While a handheld pen-sized scanner may intrigue, it's not very new, not even for this particular device. If you go to the amazon.com review of this device [amazon.com], and look and see the oldest review for this device is in October of 2004!

Additionally, while there are only fifteen reviews, the average is only 3.5/5 stars, enough of an indicator (to me at least) this isn't exciting or very interesting technology (for the record, a running theme at amazon seems to indicate a klunky package with difficult to use software and controls). Also fifteen reviews over a 15 month period would indicate a product that isn't moving. Perhaps this review is a nudge to try and get the product moving?

Re:This is old news. (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752110)

I realize that my feeble attempts at infantile humor must be put down. I write this post to inform the community that I will only offer sound and just opinions from here on in. For those with moderation points, please no longer waste them on modding down my handle - I'm going to keep it, and furthermore, I'm going to keep it positive(or at least free of bullshit nonsense). May this be my last "-1, Offtopic". Thank you.

Re:This is old news. (3, Interesting)

SteelV (839704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752117)

It is possible that it's just too new, so it isn't ready for market yet--that could by why the items aren't moving. Of course, I'm sure the first iterations of this product won't be amazing, but as time goes by, they'll probably improve.

Of course, the idea of having such a tiny scanner is amazing. It would be great to one day have a normal pen that you can just slide along a piece of paper anywhere and it will save the image. Later, you could upload it to your computer wirelessly. I would definitely pay a few hundred dollars for something like that, if not a thousand. It would be great in class to quickly scan in and then throw away every handout, so I don't need to keep them in a folder somewhere collecting dust.

Re:This is old news. (2, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752151)

It is possible that it's just too new, so it isn't ready for market yet-

or the dozen or so patents haven't expired yet for a community to develop and release an improved version without bugs.

Re:This is old news. (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752204)

Perhaps this review is a nudge to try and get the product moving?

I RTFA. What review? It's pure, unadulterated online ad, exactly the sort of copy I would expect to see at a place that asked me to add it to my cart just to see the sale price.

The "reviewer" needs to wear a Tshirt that says "I'm a ho" on it.

KFG

Re:This is old news. (2, Funny)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752220)

The "reviewer" needs to wear a Tshirt that says "I'm a ho" on it.

That was over the top. Apologise to the hoes now. ;)

Re:This is old news. (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752244)

Apologise to the hoes now.

You're right and I'm sorry. The hoes are professionals.

KFG

Re:This is old news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752237)

Perhaps you should check the model numbers. The one on Amazon is the older model R700 (black and white 200 dpi) this is the newer RC800 (color 400 dpi). Not exactly the same thing.

-J (AC and proud of it).

That's not the same unit. (2, Informative)

AllenChristopher (679129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752255)

You've linked to a review of the R700. The R700 is a monochrome unit.

This is the R800. The R800 is a colour unit with higher resolution. They also claim to have improved the tracking system and software so it isn't so fiddly.

The difference in utility is pretty major. I wouldn't bother with a monochrome pen scanner, but I would love to be able to quickly scan visual reference material out of art books quickly. They tend to be expensive and have low print runs, but photocopying for reference when doing a painting is fair use.

There's a reason scanners are big (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752288)

While a handheld pen-sized scanner may intrigue, it's not very new...
Indeed, Slashdot's sibling site, ThinkGeek, used to sell little monochrome scanners meant for OCR work. I actually bought one, but found it too hard to hold it steady enough to work reliably. And come to think of it, the first scanner I ever bought was a little handheld thing. I didn't buy it (ten years ago, I think) because it was small, I bought it because it was cheap. But again, too hard to hold steady.

If you look carefully at a typical $100 scanner, you'll realize that the electronics contribute very little to its size. Most of the bulk is due to the mechnical stuff that holds the paper in place and moves the sensors across it.

That kind of mechanical engineering has clearly hit its fundamental limits in terms of size. To get a real breakthrough, you'd have to find a way to do without moving the sensor over the image. You can already image a piece of paper with a digital camera — and some digital cameras are very tiny indeed. But they don't include the ability to correct the image for the arbitrary positioning of the camera. Invent that, and you'd have a handheld scanner worth talking about.

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

cskrat (921721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752379)

I would be impressed if they came out with a sheetfeeder dock for this thing. Load up a small stack of papers, hit the button and be done with it. Or remove it from the dock to scan a page out of a book without trying to squish the book onto a flatbed scanner.

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

JPribe (946570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752661)

If you were to use a tilt-shift lens I think you would overcome that issue rather quickly. I have seen images "scanned" with Canon cameras using tilt-shift lenses and it works rather well....

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752768)

That kind of mechanical engineering has clearly hit its fundamental limits in terms of size. To get a real breakthrough, you'd have to find a way to do without moving the sensor over the image. You can already image a piece of paper with a digital camera -- and some digital cameras are very tiny indeed. But they don't include the ability to correct the image for the arbitrary positioning of the camera. Invent that, and you'd have a handheld scanner worth talking about.

No, a camera wouldn't be good. The sides would get distorted due to the lens and the resolution wouldn't be there.

You are correct on the limitation of current handheld scanner.

I think the breakthrough would be different:

Have you ever had a copymachine where it feeds from the top and the light of the scanner sits in one place while the paper gets pulled through? The light doesn't move like a normal copy, the paper does. I imagine the next generation device would be something that can fit in a notebook, be the size and shape of a portable like this:

http://www.buyingpartners.com/product.php?co=SWI&n umber=74004 [buyingpartners.com]

And it will pull the paper through itself while the scanning light/line is stationary. I think that is doable today and would give much better results.

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

porl (932021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753082)

not sure that would be much more useful for me scanning the boxes of the dvds i want to pirate for my l33t haxx0r friends :) jokes aside i think the flatbed scanner will always have it's place.

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753200)

Yes, but the home market isn't the target for a portable scanner anyway^_^

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

theJML (911853) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753233)

No, a camera wouldn't be good. The sides would get distorted due to the lens and the resolution wouldn't be there.

Well, I started using my Canon Digital Rebel XT for "scanning" documents. If you have the right distance and the right lens (around 28mm seems pretty good, though 35 is better if you good enough light to be able to hold it steady).
It is true, at the 18mm end of the stock Rebel lens, distortion is a little of a problem, but if you go higher up, it's less fisheye. Good quality 18mm and 14mm lenses have a number of lenses meant to remove distortion and actually would work well, but I'm too cheap thus far.

The other complaint, resolution? Don't worry about that. at 8 MegaPixel, a 300 dpi image is larger than the print area of a stock 8.5x11 sheet of paper. Usually this is achieved around 3-4 feet from the image. And the stock lens focuses down to under a foot, so you can imagine the resolution you get out of that. The only thing is lighting. The stock lens is only an f3.4-5.6, so you have to have a good deal of light to get a good quality image. However, they sell a nice 50mm f1.8 for 75 bucks that would be perfect for this sort of thing.

Sure a flatbed will always have a place for scanning things, but you can see why I usually don't feel like dragging out the SCSI Flatbed everytime I want to scan in a document.

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

technos (73414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753716)

I've owned exactly what you propose. Back in.. It was probably 1995.

9 inches long, about as big around as a Red Bull can. Big thick SCSI cable that weighed more than the scanner connected it to a little parallel port SCSI board the manufacturer had bought in bulk from AT&T. Did black and white at like 200 dpi, cheesy 256 greyscale at less.

If the paper was thin, the scanner wouldn't grab it. If the paper was thick, it sounded like the scanner was going to have a heart attack. If you weren't scanning something 8 1/2 inches wide, it always came out crooked. Hell, it always came out crooked even with standard letter size, but it wasn't noticible unless you looked for it.

But.. It fit in the laptop bag. You could run without AC with a cable rigged to the keyboard port to replace the wall wart. The software that it came with generally just worked. No image stitching required. And it was always better and faster than a ScanMan..

Re:There's a reason scanners are big (1)

jamesshuang (598784) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752872)

http://www.dpreview.com/news/0509/05090702ricoh_ca plior3.asp [dpreview.com]

Check this passage:
The skew correction function. Through an original algorithm, which automatically detects trapezoids in images and corrects them to rectangles, images of such things as blackboards, documents, or time schedules shot at any angle can be corrected so that the image looks as though it were shot from the front. The camera is most effective in business environments where blackboards, overhead projector, OHPs, time schedules; signs, etc. cannot be shot from the front.
Already exists. I think the issue is more resolution - scanners can get 600 dpi (or more!) through an entire 8x10 area, while digital cameras won't even come close to that. And as the other posters are saying, lens abberations become an issue toward the corners.

My camera does that :) (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752897)

"To get a real breakthrough, you'd have to find a way to do without moving the sensor over the image. You can already image a piece of paper with a digital camera -- and some digital cameras are very tiny indeed. But they don't include the ability to correct the image for the arbitrary positioning of the camera. Invent that, and you'd have a handheld scanner worth talking about."

It's not perfect, but my camera -- a Casio EX-Z120 -- actually has exactly this feature built in. Casio calls it "Business Shot"; there are a few variants of this mode built in to the camera (though why it needs to be different for business cards vs. letter-size, I don't know). Upshot: If you take a shot, against a sufficiently contrasty background, of a basically rectangular item, such as a piece of paper with printing on it, the camera attempts to locate the edges and square things up. When I say "not perfect", I'm being kind -- it's easily confused, as a matter of fact, and I find this mode is actually more interesting for creating purposeful distortion than useful in its intended role; Ah, well. Also, this mode forces you down to 1600x1200 resolution -- which, if you're scanning a letter-size document for its content (rather than for the archives of an art museum or something), is probably not too harsh a limitation.

So -- the technology, though as yet in its early phases, is already out there, and will surely improve. Minox* should license that algorithm from Casio and start selling digital Minox cameras of the tiny shape favored by spies ... perfect for photographing purloined letters.

timothy

*I just noticed a low-end Minox digicam the other day which looks very close in size to the EX-Z120, in fact, and also uses AA batteries. Maybe it's made in the same factory ;)

What about this? (1)

Ayanami Rei (621112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752923)

http://sprite.student.utwente.nl/~jeroen/projects/ mouseeye/ [utwente.nl]

I think you could get away with a 256x256 sensor (real cheap IC) that is hooked up with a plastic lens to read a 1/2" square area at roughly 300dpi.

It could break the image up into tiles, and autocorrelate them as you scan to build up the document on the fly in the onboard memory. An ARM core with a few meg of onboard RAM and flash, maybe a DSP, it shouldn't take much to make that possible in a mouse-sized, lightweight device.

Put a few LEDs on top that tell you where to move the "mouse" to get full coverage of the page since you don't have a realtime preview.

Instructions might say: "Move mouse in back and forth scanning motion over text you want to capture. Do not rotate mouse for best results."
Of course you could omit parts of the page that are blank or you don't want to copy.

What do you think about that?

digital camera scanner - yes it exists! (1)

ThinkOfaNumber (836424) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753392)

You can already image a piece of paper with a digital camera -- and some digital cameras are very tiny indeed. But they don't include the ability to correct the image for the arbitrary positioning of the camera. Invent that, and you'd have a handheld scanner worth talking about.

My el-cheapo 6MP casio (QV-R61) digital camer can take photo's of business cards, whiteboards, etc, AND it processes the image with a special mode that straightens up edges and curves, due to my crooked eye, and the "fish eye" syndrome (don't know what it's really called).

It cost me AU$600 about 15 months ago, now it's down to AU$341.00

Admitedly it's more a camera than a scanner, so this mode could do with a bit of work, but it works good enough, and its portable. I'm more likely to have the camera around when I happen to see an interesting document in a museam, say, than whip out my portable scanner! And it doesn't require me to touch the original either...

Re:Your signature (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752302)

ANYONE who claims more than months or even weeks uptime in XP isn't applying patches!

What about the people who did apply patches and are lying? Perhaps "claims" should be replaced with "experiences" or "has".

Re:This is old news. NOT (1)

xybe (525773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752487)

The link to the review is for a previous model, the DPEN-R700, the article refers to the RC800, which seems to be far more capable than its predecessor.

Read subject as.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14753129)

Did anyone else read the subject as Penis-sized color scanner reviewed? I got excited and thought, "Wow! they're getting that small now!". Then I realized I was wrong after reading it again and returned to my normal depressed state of denial.

Re:This is old news. (1)

loki1978 (532644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753780)

Your linked Amazon review is about the 700 and the TFA is about the 800

anything you might read out of consumer comments on Amazon (who would do that anyways) is therefor not applicable.

When size matters... (5, Funny)

eMartin (210973) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752102)

"I've noticed one major constant about most technology, as it changes it gets smaller."

Hey baby..

I'm just more technologically advanced.

"Constant?" (1)

mblase (200735) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752294)

I've noticed one major constant about most technology, as it changes it gets smaller.

I'm confused now. Is it a constant, or isn't it?

Re:"Constant?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752349)

There, there nice troll. Here, have a snack and go crawl back into your corner.

Re:When size matters... (1)

Belseth (835595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752319)

"I've noticed one major constant about most technology, as it changes it gets smaller." Hey baby.. I'm just more technologically advanced.

Just goes to prove too much technology isn't a good thing.

Re:When size matters... (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752344)

"I've noticed one major constant about most technology, as it changes it gets smaller."
how the hell does this end up on /.?

Re:When size matters... (4, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752407)

Actually, "small" and "futuristic" are not necessarily mentally intertwined as you might think.

I remember looking at old futuristic art from, oh, the 30s through the 50s. The future was big. Big buildings, bridges, ships, and later big airplanes and spaceships. Big cars, big roads. I suspect that for the typical person from that period, "futuristic" would be more closely associated with "big" than "small".

Re:When size matters... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752940)

Yeah but in the '50s, the concept of miniturization didn't exist. The closest they had were cold swimming pools.

Re:When size matters... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752995)

"The future was big. Big buildings, bridges, ships, and later big airplanes and spaceships. Big cars, big roads." ..and here we are, right? Well, save the spaceships, but other than that..

Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (3, Funny)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752115)

See, like, 'cause I just saw this movie Firewall where Harrison Ford transferred 10,000 bank account numbers from a screen into digital data in an iPod in, like, three minutes, and I think this could really cause a problem because, you know, people could totally scan all sorts of secure data virtually instantaneously and then use it to, say, steal a hundred miiillion dollars.

And he even did it with the scanner used in a Fax machine. Totally awesome techie feat, not to mention impossible. The greatest line ever, though: "Ten thousand songs, ten thousand account numbers. It can't tell the difference." I fell out of my chair.

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752271)

you could easily fit 10,000 account numbers into a tab-deliminated text file, and it'd only take up a few megabytes.

a zip disk perhaps would have been more appropriate?

MEGAbytes?!?!?! (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752409)

you could easily fit 10,000 account numbers into a tab-deliminated text file, and it'd only take up a few megabytes.

Exactly how many digits is your bank account number, and why the hell do you bank there?

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752952)

The routing number for your bank is nine digits.
The number for the account at the bottom of my checks is fourteen.
Let's say we store 50 characters of name identification because we feel like sending everyone a form letter thanking them for the money we're stealing.
Tab inbetween them.
Null at the end.

In character format, this comes out to 75 bytes, with one extra null for delimitation. This comes out to a grand total of 750,000 bytes, or 730k'ish of data for 10,000 accounts.

You and everyone you have ever known's banking information would fit on a floppy ten times over. That's if you're a socialite.

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (1)

PayPaI (733999) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753242)

Keep in mind that he was storing /image/ data on the ipod, then OCRing it later. This would require that the interface board had a USB host on it, support the USB mass storage profile, and be able to grok the FAT32 filesystem. Entirely possible for his character to have, but way too much electronics and would take too long to design, write the firmware, debug, etc. A better way would be to pull the CF drive out from the ipod, write the raw image data from the scanner directly to that, then do all the heavy lifting after the fact, in software, on the laptop. Much more feasible, and the entire mess would fit on a single board + the scanner attachment. In fact, he wouldn't need the ipod at all. Just write everything to RAM, keeping it alive with the battery. Then use an off the shelf serial to USB converter, and dump the raw contents of the RAM out through that.

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753561)

I buy that, but have you ever seen a fax? The image data that's coming from a fax scanner has nowhere near the refresh rate required, and additionally the clarity would suck too much for an accurate OCR. It's all theoretically possible, but strikes me much like Gaiman's "I'm reading your computer monitor from the next room" device in Cryptonomicon. Only, well, not as creative. The plot of the whole movie needed work, really.

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752275)

Hmm... You do realize there are easier ways of getting at private data... heck, a set of binoculars and standing across the street from some "fancy" banks (that have windows behind the teller (and their easily readable computer screens)) would do nicely.

Re:Are you SUURE this is a good idea? (1)

layer3switch (783864) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752860)

That's an interesting comment. As I live in NYC, you can't run into a block without tripping over a bank (figuretively speaking) in downtown area, especially financial district. Some may think that NYC is secure from such low tech scam (looking at a screen to steal ID and account info), it really is not. I see fancy bank branches with fancy wide open window area with accountants' computer screen facing outside all the time. Not to mention people walking into a bank and seeing their terminal wide open for everyone to see.

Granted, sensable accountant should logout or screenlock, but what you mentioned just reminded me when I used to look out the window from my office and saw so many (highup manager and executive looking office) people working with their computer screen facing window for other people across the street to see. Of course I have done nothing wrong by looking outside my window, but I can imagine how easy that would be for someone with bad intention.

One bank I know (I can't say in public) occupies first floor in a building in NYC and has located accountants near big wide window without shade. Anyone can walk on sidewalk and pass the bank and see what they are working on their comupter screen.

Useful in class/workplace (4, Insightful)

SteelV (839704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752131)

This is a great way to start moving even further from the paper world. Every one or two-page document you get in class/the office you can quickly scan with a pen, then upload wirelessly to your computer. The day this becomes effective and viable--and the software for converting scanned images to text/pdf/.doc files becomes more accurate--we'll start to see an even greater shift away from traditional documents.

Already, most handouts in class can be found online. This will just make it even easier to keep everything on your computer for easy retrieval--especially through SEARCH (spotlight, google DS, vista, etc.).

Can't wait till they technology is cheaper and more efficient.

Re:Useful in class/workplace (1)

davidfree (886279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752174)

I think ill wait for the deluxe model, that combines scanner,copier, printer and fax. Now thats what I would call a gadget!!

Re:Useful in class/workplace (2, Insightful)

Forbman (794277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752197)

People said the same thing about the old Logitech Scanman portable scanners (twas about the size of a trackball. With the software, it made it easy enough to join up scan strips into one whole). Then there is the Visioneer scanners, etc. Now would be a digital camera with a ring flash and a good high quality macro lens and good quality sensor. The flash would need to be bright enough yet diffuse enough to allow for hand-held picture taking, and if the optics are good enough so that simulating pixels (ala digital resolution) isn't a bad deal, either.

Re:Useful in class/workplace (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752203)

Such an idea works in a classroom setting, but fails to work most elsewhere. It is necessary to have paper records in many fields. For instance, in some jurisdictions medical records must be on paper. While they can be stored in a computerized database, there still must be a paper copy for insurance and legal reasons.

And that's just one example. Many engineering documents and specs (I mean for real structures and products, not necessary consumer-grade hardware or software) are kept in paper form, again for legal reasons. Some accounting firms will use computers to help with their work, but again, they end up printing the data because hardcopies are often very useful.

So while it is theoretically possible to move towards a paperless society, and devices like this would help, it is not exactly practical within the existing legal frameworks of many nations.

Re:Useful in class/workplace (2, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753326)

So while it is theoretically possible to move towards a paperless society, and devices like this would help, it is not exactly practical within the existing legal frameworks of many nations.

The computer works best when you think of it as a box that does wonderous things that you used to use many pieces of paper for.

The stream, for those that still get paper in, should be "recieve paper -> Scan document -> archive or discard paper -> Create product -> print product." You start having a paperless society by having a paperless office, which means that you care about the "original" only in an abstract way, and you never touch it again if you don't have to.

I'll wager that every accounting firm in the world uses computers to track and tabulate every single line of every thing they track. The paper product they produce is usually the form of a statement, which is in paper form mostly for the convenience of their client. (The government is starting to mandate electronic filing over here.)

Medical records in paper form--well, maybe for insurance reasons, but that's a backup and not the primary record. (Unless your doctor happens to ENJOY hiring two extra staff just to handle the shelves.)

Engineering documents and specs -- well, you're right, blueprints and draft materials are usually in paper form. Because that's the only high-resolution zero-power medium we've got. Come up with a cheap 36" x 48" 1200 dpi piece of electronic paper, and watch how fast blueprints adapt. (A dead tree version of buidling plans may very well be finally filed with the local jurisdiction for archival purposes, but that same office likely won't balk at a DVD of the same images that it can store alongside them. Big-budget offices will likely ask for this.)

Oh, and as for the rest of the world--the part that isn't engineering or government-bean-counting, including those insurance companies you mention--getting rid of paper as a permanent data source has either already happened or is going to happen in the next ten years, on pain of bankruptcy. There's just too many beneits for it not to make sense to do so.

Direct input to an AI Mind? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752185)

The scanner could be used for input to
an artificial intelligence as designed by

Mentifex, author of an AI theory of mind
http://mind.sourceforge.net/theory5.html [sourceforge.net]

explained in a walk-through diagram tour
http://mind.sourceforge.net/diagrams.html [sourceforge.net]

implemented as free AI source code
http://mind.sourceforge.net/mind4th.html [sourceforge.net]

composed of AI Algorithm Steps
http://mind.sourceforge.net/aisteps.html [sourceforge.net]

published in the hardcopy AI4U textbook
http://visitware.com/AI4U/PODsales.html [visitware.com]

When I read the review... (1, Troll)

themysteryman73 (771100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752188)

I got a mental image of some guy walking into a book store, picking a book and pretending to read it while he scanned the entire thing over a half hour and a cup of coffee...

Re:When I read the review... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752212)

I'm pretty sure I can read almost as fast as this thing can scan... you have to move it across the page, twice, smoothly. Can't you?

Re:When I read the review... (1)

MSDos-486 (779223) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752780)

I think the store employees would intervene because they would think he was writing in it with a normal pen.

Now There's Something Interesting... (1)

LEX LETHAL (859141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752847)

Go into a Border's Books or a public library for that matter. Grab some of the latest hardback bestsellers or classic reprints. Sink into a plush chair with a Jamba Juice. Scan the entire book word for word, image for image into the pen. Go home and download it. Come back 1 day a week for the next 6 months and repeat.

You could scan by author, subject, heck even personal request. PDF it. Upload it. Sell it. Profit.

Boo-ya.

 

Re:Now There's Something Interesting... (1)

nzodd (836093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753204)

Oh my. And not only that, because libraries are relatively insecure, you might even be able to "check out" (i.e. smuggle) the books, and then do the scanning on your flatbed scanner, in the safety of your own home. And clearly there is no usage of these devices apart from copyright infringement. We must stop the sale of these "scanners" and "photocopying" machines before they become popular. As things progress, those damn commie librarians might even bring in their own. They might call them... Xerox machines..... Your point was?

I remember my first scanner (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752243)

300 dpi, 3 pass scanner, 8.5in x 11in, slow as mollasses and cost me $1500.

Now I have an 8.5 x 11 scanner that does 2400 dpi in a single pass and it only cost me $89 on sale at Best Buy.

Amazing what happens in a dozen years...

RS

Re:I remember my first scanner (2, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752266)

Indeed, however, even though your older scanner is quite a bit larger I'll wager its form factor is still determined by the size of a piece of paper.

The worlds smallest playable violin is only 4 inches long, but you're not likely to see people lining up to buy it. There is an international standard now for the "correct" size of a violin, because:

For every technology there is a right size. A working automobile the size of a peanut would be a remarkable bit of manufacturing technology; and useless.

KFG

Re:I remember my first scanner (2, Insightful)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752462)

You're constraining the possible solutions to fit your notion of the technology.

It's like saying "the world's smallest boulder is so small that it fits in a hat box!"

I've got a motorcycle that runs circles around most cars -- it is bigger than a peanut, but accelerates faster than a supercar and still gets 40 mpg. (my other bike is faster than 85% of all cars, but gets 90 mpg and is 1/5th the cost of a stripped civic). The only reason you would think it's useless is because it isn't a car. But, it does everything I want it to. (I don't ask it to haul stuff or work in bad weather - I have a car for that).

I've got a camera that I use as a scanner - it's much smaller and totally portable. It scans notebooks and huge chaulk boards with equal ease. It operates on a totally different principle than most scanners (focus at infinity instead of near-field) but it's a viable alternative.

So, I don't think there is a right size for most technologies if you don't unnecessarily constrain them.

Who knows... a 4" mind-controlled violin could be a really cool instrument to play while jogging!

Re:I remember my first scanner (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752490)

I've got a motorcycle that runs circles around most cars

I miss my RD400. Note that I didn't say "vehicle," I said "car." Yes, I constrained the technology, but to what it is. I didn't constrain other technologies to accomplish the same or similar ends.

Nowadays I just ride a bicycle, because even though it won't "run circles" around a car, let alone a motorcycle, I find it to be a superior technology. For minimalism I've got a skateboard, because even though I can make a fully functional, 4" long bicycle myself, it would be useless to me as transportation.

Who knows... a 4" mind-controlled violin could be a really cool instrument to play while jogging!

But wouldn't necessarily be a violin, although it might still be a fiddle.

Interesting you should bring up the idea of mind control though, because one of the other examples I had in mind was that it might well be possible to reduce the size of an mp3 player to fit entirely in an earbud, but. . . absent of mind control you would still need the iPod sized device to act as interface.

You are a human being. Your form factor is an irreducable. You need human being sized tools. When they can chip your head we'll talk, but I wouldn't hold my breath very long waiting for that. You'll only get a headache and then have to go buy a human sized mp3 player anyway.

KFG

Re:I remember my first scanner (1)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752507)

You are a human being. Your form factor is an irreducable.

Good point. Unless you're saying I'm fat and am never going to be skinny ;-)

I guess we should have come up with better examples -- some things are constrained by human form factors (car, violin, piano), and others aren't as much (mp3 player, sheets of paper).

Re:I remember my first scanner (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752658)

. . .some things are constrained by human form factors (car, violin, piano), and others aren't as much (mp3 player, sheets of paper).

The single volume dead tree OED came with a magnifying glass. The magnifying glass becomes part of the size of the piece of paper, because the paper is useless without it.

If you find you need to use a tripod to achieve high quality scans with your digital camera, the tripod becomes part of the size of your scanner.

The size of the scanner is dependant on the size of the piece of paper, which is dependant on what size paper is useful to a human being, which also means the eventual display device becomes part of the size of the piece of paper.

Do you want a 3" monitor, or a 30" monitor?

The size of an mp3 player, as noted, is actually determined by the size of its interface, no matter how small the "guts" of the thing are.

It's all about the interface, because whatever the technology you still have to be able to use the bloody thing and even something as simple as a piece of paper has a minimum size beyond which reducing it makes it unusable, without introducing other large objects.

KFG

Re:I remember my first scanner (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752609)

How can you scan a notebook if the camera focuses at infinity? You definitely need a macro mode on the camera, although scannig pages with a camera makes more sense than a silly pen you wave across the paper.

Re:I remember my first scanner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752964)

I was being sloppy, of course. But you don't necessarily need a macro mode to photograph things not at infinity -- just a small aperture and use the hyperfocal distance [dofmaster.com]

Horray for useless technology! (0, Offtopic)

228e2 (934443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752305)

This article draws some parallels from the article on "non-PC" science projects. yes, its pretty and shiny, it a portal for new, innovative things to come, but other than that, its just a raiting grabber. yawn.

Re:Horray for useless technology? ahem! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752334)

James bond could use one of these to quickly copy classified documents and so on. It seems more like a spy gadget than an office gadget but neat nonetheless.

Re:Horray for useless technology! (1)

loki1978 (532644) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753806)

Useless? Not at all, sir.
I visit many libaries to look up information in old books. I have been searching a thing like this for about a month

Useful to genealogists (4, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752352)

This would be useful for those doing research in libraries' historical records. They rarely lend out their older collections, and in some cases won't let them be scanned either. This could be a useful covert way of doing just that.

Re:Useful to gynecologists (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752392)

I read that worng the first time around!

Re:Useful to gynecologists (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752681)

Took me a while because in English it is spelled gynaecology =)

Such a shame the new world eschewed proper spelling in favour of .... er .. what ?

Technology gets smaller as it advances?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752386)

Woah!! What an amazing discovery!

WTFC? (2, Insightful)

AlterTick (665659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752422)

and they actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Honestly, is there anyone over the age of 12 that's still impressed with anything in the Guiness Book of World Records? And even if so, why is a record of "Worlds Smallest Scanner" even worth recording? It'll be beaten as a matter of course when the R900 comes out.

Re:WTFC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14752446)

'Cos the guiness book of world records was designed to fuel discussions at pubs.

Come to think of it... when you're drunk this still isn't an interesting fact. Never mind.

usable with Linux? (3, Interesting)

srk (49331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752423)

Does anybody know if it works with Linux or Mac? Manufacturer's web site has only Windows as a supported system.

Re:usable with Linux? (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752486)

Does anybody know if it works with Linux or Mac? Manufacturer's web site has only Windows as a supported system.

You seem to have answered your own question in the same post.

Re:usable with Linux? (2, Informative)

markdavis (642305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752563)

Apparently not, since http://www.planon.com/drivers.php [planon.com] indicates that it is, indeed supported under MacOS 10:

"Please note that these files are drivers only and do not include any scanning software. They will allow you to use your DocuPen with your mac if your mac has OS 10 and a TWAIN compliant imaging software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Acrobat Writer among others."

Unfortunately, no mention of Linux, so it is not an interesting product, afterall.

Re:usable with Linux? (2, Interesting)

srk (49331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752597)

There are lots of products for which manufacturers do not claim any Linux compatibility. However, such products are often perfectly usable with Linux either because there is a community support or a product is built to some standard. For example, I have not seen a USB key claiming compatibility with Linux but 99.99% of them work fine.

I wonder if somebody tried this scanner with Linux? Also this scanner can use microSD card to extend its memory. It may store the files on the card in some usable format.

Re:usable with Linux? (1)

gadzook33 (740455) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753134)

It would appear not. At the very least, it is not included in SANE [sane-project.org] in either the internal or external backends. For that matter, no Planon scanner is.

Re:usable with Linux? (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 8 years ago | (#14754192)

Email them to ask. We all know the answer will probably be 'no', but by asking you are showing them that they have just lost a customer because they do not support any operating system other than Windows.

If enough people email them to ask, they will start supporting Linux.

Author must be out of products to review (1)

nomad63 (686331) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752451)

This device was being sold on retail outlets like compussr and such for the past year or so and the reviews are dime a dozen. I am not sure how this article got past the scrutiny of slasdot editors while they slash stories of much better content left and right. He/she must be a good friend to one of the editors here I am thinking {grin}...

Most consumer stuff is crap (3, Informative)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752506)

I work with scanners regularly and all the destop scanners we recommend to our clients cost around $1000 or more. Dedicated 8hr-a-day scanners run close to $5000. We don't make a dime on hardware, so we're not trying to squeeze cash out of anyone. Just try a $1000 scanner like a Kodak i40 someday and you'll see why anyone who depends on a scanner for a business shouldn't consider anything inferior.

Now, if you show me a pen scanner that makes images good enough to ORC or recognize a bar code and I'll sell a million of them for you. But for now, I love to have an ultra-reliable, self-feeding, double-sided, 60+ ppm scanner whenever I need to scan anything worthwhile.

Re:Most consumer stuff is crap (1)

GrAfFiT (802657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752558)

The difference with industrial sheetfeed scanners is that this one actually fits in your pocket..

All I want from scanner manufacturers (3, Interesting)

melted (227442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752578)

All I want from scanner manufacturers is come up with a model of scanner that can scan _multiple_ pages, from _both sides_, _automatically_, bundled with decent OCR software and archiving software. I'd just feed all the paperwork I receive in a week into it and have a searchable archive. Unfortunately, the industry is run by morons and it's not gonna happen.

Re:All I want from scanner manufacturers (1)

hughk (248126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752639)

We use one of the better Kodak scanners, full duplex and with ADF. We run it through Captiva and we get fully searchable OCRed documents (with the original document image). These end up being filed on an archive system. It works, but the solution is very proprietary and extremely expensive.

Of course it helps to be a big bank to be able to afford such systems. SoHo prioced scanners can be nice, but they generally aren't full-duplex and the ADFs tend to jam if the paper quality isn't 100%.

Re:All I want from scanner manufacturers (1)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752703)

$1000 doesn't sounds like too much if you really spend that much time pissing about scanning.

And I found it in like 2 minutes

http://search.ebay.com/XDM2625D [ebay.com]

The Xerox DocuMate 262 Color Duplex Sheetfed Scanner & Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) for Windows/Windows XP is Double the speed in duplex mode @ 50 ipm and includes OneTouch scanning for up to 9 functions.
MODEL: XDM2625D-WU VENDOR: VISIONEER

Seems it's not just the people you think are running the show who are morons.

Re:All I want from scanner manufacturers (1)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752945)

All I want from scanner manufacturers is come up with a model of scanner that can scan _multiple_ pages, from _both sides_, _automatically_, bundled with decent OCR software and archiving software. I'd just feed all the paperwork I receive in a week into it and have a searchable archive. Unfortunately, the industry is run by morons and it's not gonna happen.

You mean like the Kodak i40? I'd say it does just about everything you mention, and has a nice supply of included software to boot.

At the office, we have the single-sided sibling (Kodak i30) for scanning client paperwork. Feeds and reads B&W documents in about 2 seconds per page. Color may take longer, but we haven't used the color feature.

I just saw an ad for a new Fuji SnapScan scanner which should be cheaper, alhough I don't know what they include with it.

Re:All I want from scanner manufacturers (1)

dickens (31040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753089)

At the newspaper where I worked until recently we had a Ricoh Officio (or something like that, forget the model#) that was a printer/scanner/fax etc. You could feed in a stack of paper and push a few buttons and it would either email you a file or drop it on an SMB share for you, in TIF or PDF format. It was a pretty cool device.

Expensive to buy, I bet, but the bosses liked it because it cost something like $40 a month to lease including all supplies (except paper) and all maintenance.

No, I mean something in sub-$400 range (1)

melted (227442) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753305)

... and compact enough to keep on my desk. $1K+ behemoth is OK for the office, but at home I need something smaller an less expensive.

Re:All I want from scanner manufacturers (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752983)

Kodak, Xerox and Fujitsu all produce scanners as you describe. A friend and I built a client management system for financial advisers, and we've used a Fujitsu duplex scanner (around 27 sheets per minute iirc) plus the duplex scanning facilities in photocopiers to keep all client records archived. We currently have something like 70,000 documents (between 30 and 100 A4 sides per document on average) on one deployment of system - all scanned in a short space of time. On a smaller scale you can also buy software cheaply now which scans and produces "image on top of text" (or vice versa) PDF documents that are fully searchable (even Microsoft Office Imaging offers this with Office XP onwards). IIRC these packages mainly use the FineReader or ScanSoft engines - which are basically the best around at the moment (for western scripts at least). You can then use the Windows search functions to find the documents.

Ask and ye shall recieve (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753172)

A doctor's office that I occasionally do work for has a Canon scanner up at the the front desk which they use to scan, from what I gather, all of their patient-related documents into a computer.

It's a dandy little box. You just put a stack of papers into it, and it scans them - both sides at once. It doesn't seem to care much about bent corners, or creases, or folds, or slightly-off sizes. And when it does begin to misfeed for whatever reason, it has the remarkable ability to shake the paper stack until things begin feeding properly again.

And, IIRC, it scans at some insane real-world speed of something like 15 double-sided pages per minute, including occasional pauses to let the computer/interface catch up.

They don't bother with OCR there (and last I checkd, OCR was generally still pretty sucky), so I cannot speak of its performance in that area. But the hardware sure seems to have existed, at least, for the past year or so.

Personally... (1)

ASUSanator (700145) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752636)

... I would love one of these. Being able to scan pages and books anywhere with minimal fuss would be a dream come true for me. The only downfalls i can see are highish price and flimsy construction. Might wait a bit to see if there are any copy-cat products that do a better job.

Hmm. . . (1)

wormnet.org (955561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752645)

Today for review I have the smallest scanner yet, it's from Planon, and they actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Designers seem to keep making devices smaller and smaller just because they can. Some devices are becoming so small it's making them virtually unusable.

Future Review: New scanner released that's the size of a needle, unfortunately the review has been delayed because we dropped it in a haystack.

Inspiron 700m Screen Scanner - Why Not? (1)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14752733)

Since the boring day on which I noticed the space under the screen of my Inspiron 700m notebook is just large enough to pass a sheet of paper I have wondered if it would be possible for Dell or some intrepid DIY'er to install a scanner in the afore-mentioned space. Perhaps this little pen will spur somebody on.

Double take (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753213)

Pen-Sized Color Scanner Reviewed

I suppose I'm the only person who thought that said penis-sized color scanner. It was a boggle trying to figure out why that would be the unit of measure and who would calculate the standard.

You could spin that out to suggest there was a replica at some government office, made out of titanium or something, that was the internationally recognized standard. That could help out anyone getting caught with a vibrator in their desk. They could simply explain that was their 1.0 reference standard. Think of it as a ruler.

I bet Bill O'Reilly wishes he would have thought of that now, huh?

Scanners only getting smaller? (1)

Hydrogenoid (410979) | more than 8 years ago | (#14753874)

I remember most affordable scanners in the mid 90s being hand-held.
Those looked a bit like a T-shaped overgrown mouse (now figure that out) and required at least two passes to scan an A4 sheet.
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