Document Conversion

Scanners are becoming smaller, cheaper, faster and more functional

The first step in most imaging applications is to capture text, graphics and photos so that they can be stored for easy reference. Electronic scanners do this by using light to "read" images off paper documents, microfilm or photographic film. Ordinary scanners take pictures of images for archival applications in which images are stored for reference only. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) devices are used to recognize shapes and characters from predefined fields and convert them into digital computer code, so that text can be manipulated once it is scanned.

Until recently, many government imaging projects involved high-end color scanners capable of processing more than 100 pages a minute and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. These large flatbed units, from companies such as Sharp and Xerox, are used in sophisticated defense and intelligence applications, or to tackle high-volume paperwork such as tax forms or medical records.

But now agencies are turning to scanners for smaller jobs as well. Inexpensive desktop and handheld models are being used to store correspondence and other simple tasks. Sheet-fed units, from companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Microtek, can be as small as a PC mouse and cost as little as $200. Data capture has become so popular that Compaq and Hewlett-Packard recently introduced computers with scanners built into the keyboards.

Increased competition in the scanners market has resulted in less expensive and more sophisticated machines. Time- and money-saving features once considered optional are now standard on many models. Duplex scanning, which enables images on both sides of documents to be captured at the same time, is rapidly replacing simplex scanning. Other features such as automatic feeders, color dropout options and super-high resolutions also are turning up on medium-range and low-end machines. Higher resolutions, however, require more scanning time per page and more storage capacity.

Scanning speeds on lower-resolution units are up to about 150 pages a minute, with an average recognition accuracy of 95 percent. Some models have built-in spell checkers and word-analysis programs to ease the cleanup job when characters are misread. Many OCR devices use "fuzzy logic" to decipher mispelled words.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.