One of the conversations I’ve had multiple times over the past year has to do with how behind the times scanning technology is. No, not the scanners themselves, which are smaller, faster, cheaper and produce better quality images than ever before. In fact, in regards to “speeds and feeds,” there is not much further vendors can go…But connecting a scanner to PC is pretty much being done the same way it was five years ago, when USB scanning was first introduced.
Basically, you load a driver, plug in your scanner through the USB port and scan to your computer. Of course, there has been a movement toward capturing document images with mobile phones designed to circumvent scanners altogether. But, the problem with mobile phone cameras is that image quality isn’t nearly what you get from a dedicated document scanner. In addition, if users are capturing more than one or two pages, it can become very cumbersome.
A few years back, at AIIM 2010, I asked for some technology that could possibly connect the high-quality mobile scanners that were being produced with smartphones which were beginning to flood the market. Well, since then, Visioneer has introduced Eye-Fi technology into its Mobility scanner for wirelessly capturing JPEG images directly to smartphones.
Canon now has introduced a device that can wirelessly connect its personal scanners wirelessly to PCs, MACs, and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. The new WU-10 has a USB port a scanner plugs into. It powers the scanner (through a rechargeable Canon camera battery) as well as sets up a wireless network connection between the scanner and a user’s device of choice. With a PC, a user can scan just like they had a wired USB connection. With a mobile device, they can scan through a free downloadable app.
Canon will be showing the WU-10 at the CES show in Las Vegas. It lists for $169. The device has been available in Europe for a few months, but according to Canon executives, it’s still too early to tell if there are any particular markets where it is gaining traction. That said, it seems like a great way to combine the high-quality images produced by dedicated document scanners with the mobility of tablets and smartphones.