Scanbot

29 March 2019 author: João

A goodbye to the past

Moving against his instincts, Andrey delved further into the cave. The air was cold and humid. A tinge of mold hung in the air. In the dimly lit area, he encountered a passageway partially blocked with medium-sized boulders, or so it seemed, until he tried moving one. A glimmer of light reflected on the left side of the block, and it brought him a recollection of a time long forgotten, one where computer monitors were these huge and heavy cube-like objects. "An old display!" - he muttered to himself in the midst of the excitement.

A sharp light shined on the wall at the end of the corridor in front of him, followed by a mechanical screech. This is your only chance of seeing it. He put on the protective glasses. If the light hits your eyes directly, you'll go blind, grandfather warned. Quietly, not to make his presence known, he advanced into the clearing at the end of the tunnel.

A small breach in the ceiling projected faint rays of sunlight onto the floor. Thick moss grew on the walls here, and in the middle of the cavern there was the remainder of a broken stalagmite. Sitting atop was... it. The top open, and a bright light scanning: forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward and back, forward and back...

You don't need a scanner.

Let's face it.

Smartphone cameras are getting better each year, and there is no reason why you should still need to own a dedicated machine for scanning some documents. As time passes, most devices' functionality is being aggregated into smartphones or computers (or both).

Your calendar? Lives on your phone. Camera? Unless you're doing professional work, your phone does that for you too. Reminders? Phone. Mp3 player? Phone. World map, taxi service, credit card? Phone does it all.

That being said, I will not deny the convenience of not having to rely on something that only works if it has a charge... Scanners also offer a higher resolution scan, and there are still some use cases where you might need to use them but, for the majority of purposes, your phone will do just fine - if you have the right software.

The right software

Automatic framing

Scanbot is the app meant to replace a traditional scanner. It uses your phone's camera and cleverness to detect a a rectangular shape basicallydocument , and automatically gives you a realtime preview of how it will be cropped by detecting the edges of the paper.

If the automatic cropping is not correctly aligned, you can easily correct that in the crop menu.

Adjusting the look

After you've scanned your document, it might not look perfect, especially if lighting wasn't ideally when you took the photo, or if the paper was creased. Scanbot offers a solution for that as well. If you go into the filter menu, the app automatically suggests a filter for this particular document.

Is it a black and white page? Use the grayscale filter. Want a bit more contrast? Go for pure black and white instead. I find this option makes scanned documents look almost as if they were a pdf to begin with (though you end up losing some detail). You can also manually adjust the sliders for brightness, saturation and contrast, to create the look you want.

Adding a signature

Every once in a while you will receive a document via email. The instructions will say something along the lines of "please print the document, sign it, scan it again and then send it back to us". At this point you should probably be asking yourself what year it is. After a kind stranger confirms to you that it is in fact 2019, you can move on to opening the document with Scanbot, adding your signature and positioning it on the document, and sending it back as requested, without having to lay your hands on 20th century equipment. The trees will thank you.