5 Digital Scanning Technologies that Changed the World

While the world is becoming digital in just about every way and the dream of the paperless office is still in the minds of many, the dream remains elusive. It seems that paper will always exist, but keeping it to a minimum is still possible with today's scanner technologies. Scanners have advanced dramatically in the past five years with new ideas coming to market on a regular basis. Below, we examine five types of scanners that have changed the way people are working, living, and experiencing their world.

Document Scanners

Document scanning equipment can trace its roots back to the 1970s with the first OCR (Optical Character Recognition) system developed for commercial use in 1976. Today's document scanners are far more accurate and amazingly fast. As opposed to image scanners that capture essentially a photo-copy of a document, document scanners actually read and translate the characters on the page so that they can be stored and edited like a word processor file. Additionally, many of today's models are relatively high-speed and allow for efficient rendering and organizing of digital documents.

Hand-Held Scanners

Hand-Held Scanners take document scanning to a new level. Straight out of a James Bond movie, many of today's hand-held scanners look like large pen or magic wand. They are compact devices that allow users to quickly scan any document or photo and store it digitally to be later uploaded to a PC or network cloud for safekeeping. Many modern handhelds have OCR software included, which allows for digital storage of editable text, while some are only image scanners which take a photo image of the scanned document. Battery-powered and easy to use, handheld scanners are a common tool in today's business traveler's toolkit.



One of the more amazing advances in scanning technology has been the HoverCam digital document camera/ scanner. Unlike other scanners, this technological wonder uses digital photo imaging to capture the document image, and then uses OCR to digitize text into editable files. This device sits upright on a desk or table, and its camera is mounted on an adjustable arm the juts out parallel with the scanning area. The user places the document under the camera arm and checks their monitoring device (PC, tablet or smartphone screen), makes a few adjustments and voila! It captures the document in digital format. Some other unique features that set apart the HoverCam from other digital scanning devices is its ability to capture video, audio, and to be used as an overhead projector. This device is becoming a fan favorite of teachers around the country.

High Resolution

Many of today's scanners are higher resolution compared to a decade ago; but not all are of the highest. Most of us are familiar with the concept of DPI resolution for cameras, but for scanners resolution has not always been a coveted feature. Today's scanners have common scanning resolution between 800 dpi to 1200 dpi, but the highest resolution machines go as high as 9600 dpi. That's eight times more detail. For users in the market of archival-quality photo scanners, modern high-resolution machines are more than capable of capturing every detail and nuance.

3D Scanners

By far the most mind-boggling development in digital scanning has to be the 3D Scanner. This device can scan real-world objects and digitize the analysis into data that can be then used to create three-dimension replications of the original object. However, they don't have to be replicated into tangible real-world objects but rather, the scanned object can be imported into graphics programs and used to create realistic imagery for movies and graphic design. Besides movies and design, other applications for 3D scanning include civil engineering in the modeling of buildings and bridges, replicating fine art, and medical sciences.

The amazing capabilities of modern scanning equipment may have seemed like science fiction just a few years ago. From highly accurate yet simple digital document scanners that can be stored in a jacket pocket, to highly advanced 3D scanners that help create modern marvels, digital scanners have become necessary tools for decades to come, and they have certainly changed the world.