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Xerox technology could turn cameraphone into scanner.

Scientists at the Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE) in Grenoble, France. have developed document imaging technology that could turn mobile phones into portable document scanners and, ultimately, into devices allowing people to acquire, store, read, print, and share documents at will.

The innovative software enables cameraphones to cope with poor lighting, distorted images, and other problems encountered when processing images taken by a digital camera in a hostile environment, according to Christopher Dance, senior scientist and image processing manager for XRCE, which specializes in development of innovative technologies that help people access and share documents and knowledge.

The software has been built upon innovations in improving document imaging with cameras, an area where XRCE has developed extensive expertise.

"We saw the potential of mobile telephones as a vehicle for advanced imaging technology from the outset," Dance explains. "We had to wait, however, for mobile phone technology to catch up so the cameras integrated on them were of a high enough resolution. It wasn't until this year. with the advent of megapixel mobile cameraphones, that we saw a potential route to market for our technology."

Dance believes the new technology could revolutionize the roles of employees working remotely at trade and industry events, presentations, conferences, client meetings, or other occasions. It would enable them to capture information from handwritten notes, documents, screens, whiteboards or other surfaces. then immediately transmit it.

The Xerox patented mobile document imaging software works through a four-step process. First, the image is captured photographically. Then, Xerox software is applied to correct for blurring. The image is converted to black and white next, like a conventional printed image, to eliminate any shadows and reflections. For handwritten text or writing in color, as might be found on a whiteboard, color saturation and white balance are used as contrast techniques. Finally, the image is compressed, making it easy to send and print.

Xerox uses a G4 fax compression format, producing images one-tenth the size of JPEG, which is standard for mobile image transmission. The result: a 250Kb JPEG image becomes a 15Kb G4 fax image. The file can be sent by Bluetooth wireless technology, multimedia messaging, or facsimile. Once the image reaches a server or desktop PC where optical character recognition can be applied, various types of services can be offered based upon the user needs.

"The ability to capture the image in a mobile environment, and then transmit that image while on the move, is just the beginning," says Dance. "Once this is achieved, then in the future we will be able to apply other Xerox document technologies, such as indexing, retrieval, or summarization. Ultimately, we will be applying business-to-business document functions to the basic consumer 'snap-shot' technology and, in doing so, will have changed the way in which people communicate."
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Publication:Digital Imaging Digest
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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