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Xerox Technology Could Transform Camera Phone Into Portable Document Scanner

Press release from the issuing company

GRENOBLE, France--Nov. 15, 2004-- Scientists at Xerox Corporation's research center in Europe have developed document imaging technology that could turn mobile phones into portable document scanners and ultimately, into devices that allow people to acquire, store, read, print and share documents at will. The innovative software enables camera phones for the first time 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 Xerox Research Centre Europe in Grenoble. XRCE 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 explained. "However, we had to wait for mobile phone technology to catch up so that the cameras integrated on them were of a high enough resolution. It wasn't until this year, with the advent of mega-pixel mobile camera phones, that we saw a potential route to market for our technology." Dance believes that 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. Xerox's patented mobile document imaging software works through a four-step process: 1. Capture the image photographically. 2. Apply Xerox software to correct for blurring. 3. Convert image to black and white, like a conventional printed image, and eliminate any shadows and reflections. For handwritten text or writing in color, as might be found on a whiteboard, apply color saturation and white balance contrast techniques. 4. Compress the image 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," said 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 'snapshot' technology and, in doing so, will have changed the way in which people communicate." The technology is available through Xerox's licensing agent, IPValue Management Inc. Potential applications could come through mobile phone manufacturers, vendors of other types of handheld devices, mobile carriers and application providers.