There are a huge collection of application in the App Store that introduce a handy scanner to your iOS device, and contrary to popular opinion, some of them work incredibly well. That 5-megapixel camera on your iPhone 4 will actually do a pretty impressive job of scanning anything from a tiny business card to a large A4 letter. So impressive, in fact, that Apple is working on a scanner feature of its own.
In a newly surfaced patent discovered by Patently Apple, Apple describes how an iPhone could be used “as a mouse or scanner.” According to 9to5 Mac, the feature will work just like those in third-party apps: you simply take a picture of the document you wish to scan, and then Apple’s software then works its magic:
- The user opens the app and holds the iPhone over the document or object they want scanned. They then snap a picture of it. Apple’s on-board software then resizes the image to ‘letter’ or business card, A4 or whatever depending on original document. Resizing includes aligning edges that get skewed by a sigle scan point rather than traditional scanning methods. The user can then manually change the size of the document or the use (biz card?)
- On board software then separates images blocks from text.
- This is where it gets murky. At last word, Apple was trying to do OCR both on-device and using alternative cloud methods for recognizing text. Third party Optical Character Recognition (OCR) vs. in house solutions were also being tested.
- The resulting file can then be saved as a PDF, .Pages, exported to contacts (in the case of business cards for example).
The advantage with having Apple build a feature like this into the iOS operating system is that it could integrate with other iPhone applications. For example, when you scan a business card, it could send the information straight to your Contacts — rather than storing it in a third-party app.
As for that mouse feature, this seems to also work like the many third-party mouse applications currently available, in that it would turn your iPhone into trackpad for your Mac.
Both features, I believe, would be great additions to the iOS operating system. What do you think?
[via 9to5 Mac]