In computing, a scanner is a device that optically scans images, printed text, handwriting, or an object, and converts it to a digital image. Common examples found in offices are variations of the desktop (or flatbed) scanner where the document is placed on a glass window for scanning. Hand-held scanners, where the device is moved by hand, have evolved from text scanning "wands" to 3D scanners used for industrial design, reverse engineering, test and measurement, orthotics, gaming and other applications. Mechanically driven scanners that move the document are typically used for large-format documents, where a flatbed design would be impractical.
Modern scanners typically use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or a Contact Image Sensor (CIS) as the image sensor, whereas older drum scanners use a photomultiplier tube as the image sensor. A rotary scanner, used for high-speed document scanning, is another type of drum scanner, using a CCD array instead of a photomultiplier. Other types of scanners are planetary scanners, which take photographs of books and documents, and 3D scanners, for producing three-dimensional models of objects.
Another category of scanner is digital camera scanners, which are based on the concept of reprographic cameras. Due to increasing resolution and new features such as anti-shake, digital cameras have become an attractive alternative to regular scanners. While still having disadvantages compared to traditional scanners (such as distortion, reflections, shadows, low contrast), digital cameras offer advantages such as speed, portability, gentle digitizing of thick documents without damaging the book spine. New scanning technologies are combining 3D scanners with digital cameras to create full-color, photo-realistic 3D models of objects.
In the biomedical research area, detection devices for DNA microarrays are called scanners as well. These scanners are high-resolution systems (up to 1 µm/ pixel), similar to microscopes. The detection is done via CCD or a photomultiplier tube (PMT).
- 1 Scanned maps in GIS software
- 2 Types
- 3 Quality
- 4 Computer connection
- 5 Output data
- 6 Document processing
- 7 Infrared cleaning
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Scanned maps in GIS software
A hardcopy map can be represented as a raster dataset in GIS software. To do that, first the hardcopy map needs to be scanned, and then you can georeference it inside GIS software. For example, in ArcMap, you will add the scanned image using the Add data button, then you can georeference it. After georeferencing, this map can be used as a GIS raster dataset.
Drum scanners capture image information with photomultiplier tubes (PMT), rather than the charge-coupled device (CCD) arrays found in flatbed scanners and inexpensive film scanners. Reflective and transmissive originals are mounted on an acrylic cylinder, the scanner drum, which rotates at high speed while it passes the object being scanned in front of precision optics that deliver image information to the PMTs. Most modern color drum scanners use 3 matched PMTs, which read red, blue, and green light respectively. Light from the original artwork is split into separate red, blue, and green beams in the optical bench of the scanner.
The drum scanner gets its name from the clear acrylic cylinder, the drum, on which the original artwork is mounted for scanning. Depending on size it is possible to mount originals up to 11"x17", but maximum size varies by manufacturer. One of the unique features of drum scanners is the ability to control sample area and aperture size independently. The sample size is the area that the scanner encoder reads to create an individual pixel. The aperture is the actual opening that allows light into the optical bench of the scanner. The ability to control aperture and sample size separately is particularly useful for smoothing film grain when scanning black-and white and color negative originals.
While drum scanners are capable of scanning both reflective and transmissive artwork, a good-quality flatbed scanner can produce good scans from reflective artwork. As a result, drum scanners are rarely used to scan prints now that high quality inexpensive flatbed scanners are readily available. Film, however, is where drum scanners continue to be the tool of choice for high-end applications. Because film can be wet-mounted to the scanner drum and because of the exceptional sensitivity of the PMTs, drum scanners are capable of capturing very subtle details in film originals.
Only a few companies continue to manufacture drum scanners. While prices of both new and used units have come down over the last decade, they still require a considerable monetary investment when compared to CCD flatbed and film scanners. However, drum scanners remain in demand due to their capacity to produce scans that are superior in resolution, color gradation, and value structure. Also, since drum scanners are capable of resolutions up to 12,000 PPI, their use is generally recommended when a scanned image is going to be enlarged.
In most graphic-arts operations, very-high-quality flatbed scanners have replaced drum scanners, being both less expensive and faster. However, drum scanners continue to be used in high-end applications, such as museum-quality archiving of photographs and print production of high-quality books and magazine advertisements. In addition, due to the greater availability of pre-owned units many fine-art photographers are acquiring drum scanners, which has created a new niche market for the machines.
The first image scanner ever developed was a drum scanner. It was built in 1957 at the US National Bureau of Standards by a team led by Russell Kirsch. The first image ever scanned on this machine was a 5 cm square photograph of Kirsch's then-three-month-old son, Walden. The black and white image had a resolution of 176 pixels on a side.
A flatbed scanner is usually composed of a glass pane (or platen), under which there is a bright light (often xenon or cold cathode fluorescent) which illuminates the pane, and a moving optical array in CCD scanning. CCD type scanners typically contain three rows (arrays) of sensors with red, green, and blue filters. CIS scanning consists of a moving set of red, green and blue LEDs strobed for illumination and a connected monochromatic photodiode array for light collection. Images to be scanned are placed face down on the glass, an opaque cover is lowered over it to exclude ambient light, and the sensor array and light source move across the pane, reading the entire area. An image is therefore visible to the detector only because of the light it reflects. Transparent images do not work in this way, and require special accessories that illuminate them from the upper side. Many scanners offer this as an option.
"Slide" (positive) or negative film can be scanned in equipment specially manufactured for this purpose. Usually, uncut film strips of up to six frames, or four mounted slides, are inserted in a carrier, which is moved by a stepper motor across a lens and CCD sensor inside the scanner. Some models mainly used for same-size scans.
Scanners typically read red-green-blue color (RGB) data from the array. This data is then processed with some proprietary algorithm to correct for different exposure conditions, and sent to the computer via the device's input/output interface (usually SCSI or bidirectional parallel port in machines pre-dating the USB standard). Color depth varies depending on the scanning array characteristics, but is usually at least 24 bits. High quality models have 48 bits or more color depth. The other qualifying parameter for a scanner is its resolution, measured in pixels per inch (ppi), sometimes more accurately referred to as Samples per inch (spi). Instead of using the scanner's true optical resolution, the only meaningful parameter, manufacturers like to refer to the interpolated resolution, which is much higher thanks to software interpolation. As of 2009[update], a high-end flatbed scanner can scan up to 5400 ppi and a good drum scanner has an optical resolution of 12,000 ppi.
Manufacturers often claim interpolated resolutions as high as 19,200 ppi; but such numbers carry little meaningful value, because the number of possible interpolated pixels is unlimited.
The size of the file created increases with the square of the resolution; doubling the resolution quadruples the file size. A resolution must be chosen that is within the capabilities of the equipment, preserves sufficient detail, and does not produce a file of excessive size. The file size can be reduced for a given resolution by using "lossy" compression methods such as JPEG, at some cost in quality. If the best possible quality is required lossless compression should be used; reduced-quality files of smaller size can be produced from such an image when required (e.g., image designed to be printed on a full page, and a much smaller file to be displayed as part of a fast-loading web page).
The third important parameter for a scanner is its density range. A high density range means that the scanner is able to reproduce shadow details and brightness details in one scan.
By combining full-color imagery with 3D models, modern hand-held scanners are able to completely reproduce objects electronically. The addition of 3D color printers enables accurate miniaturization of these objects, with applications across many industries and professions.
Scanning the document is only one part of the process. For the scanned image to be useful, it must be transferred from the scanner to an application running on the computer. There are two basic issues: (1) how the scanner is physically connected to the computer and (2) how the application retrieves the information from the scanner.
Direct physical connection to a computer
The amount of data generated by a scanner can be very large: a 600 DPI 9"x11" (slightly larger than A4 paper) uncompressed 24-bit image is about 100 megabytes of data which must be transferred and stored. Recent scanners can generate this volume of data in a matter of seconds, making a fast connection desirable.
Scanners communicate to their host computer using one of the following physical interfaces, listing from slow to fast:
- Parallel - Connecting through a parallel port is the slowest common transfer method. Early scanners had parallel port connections that could not transfer data faster than 70 kilobytes/second. The primary advantage of the parallel port connection was economic: it avoided adding an interface card to the computer.
- GPIB - General Purpose Interface Bus. Certain drumscanners like the Howtek D4000 featured both a SCSI and GPIB interface. The latter conforms to the IEEE-488 standard, introduced in the mid ’70's. The GPIB-interface has only been used by a few scanner manufactures, mostly serving the DOS/Windows environment. For Apple Macintosh systems, National Instruments provided a NuBus GPIB interface card.
- Small Computer System Interface (SCSI), which is supported by most computers only via an additional SCSI interface card. Some SCSI scanners are supplied together with a dedicated SCSI card for a PC, although any SCSI controller can be used. During the evolution of the SCSI standard speeds increased, with backwards compatibility; a SCSI connection can transfer data at the highest speed which both the controller and the device support. SCSI has been largely replaced by USB and Firewire, one or both of which are directly supported by most computers, and which are easier to set up than SCSI.
- Universal Serial Bus (USB) scanners can transfer data quickly, and they are easier to use and cheaper than SCSI devices. The early USB 1.1 standard could transfer data at only 1.5 megabytes per second (slower than SCSI), but the later USB 2.0 standard can theoretically transfer up to 60 megabytes per second (although everyday rates are much lower), resulting in faster operation.
- FireWire is an interface that is much faster than USB 1.1 and comparable to USB 2.0. FireWire speeds are 25, 50, and 100, 400 and 800 megabits per second (but a device may not support all speeds).
- Some early scanners used a proprietary interface card rather than a standard interface.
Indirect (network) connection to a computer
During the early nineties, professional flatbed scanners were targeted to professional users. Some vendors (like Umax) allowed a single scanner connected to a host computer to function as a scanner accessible by all users within a local computer network. This proved to be very handy to e.g. publishers, print shops, etc. This functionality gradually disappeared after the mid-’90's as flatbed scanners became more affordable each year. However, as of 2000 and later, all-in-one multi-purpose devices targeted to serve both (small) offices and consumers usually combine a printer, scanner, copier and fax into a single apparatus available to a whole workgroup, providing each individual fax, scan, copy and print functionality.
Applications Programming Interface
An application such as Adobe Photoshop must communicate with the scanner. There are many different scanners, and many of those scanners use different protocols. In order to simplify applications programming, some Applications Programming Interfaces ("API") were developed. The API presents a uniform interface to the scanner. This means that the application does not need to know the specific details of the scanner in order to access it directly. For example, Adobe Photoshop supports the TWAIN standard; consequently, (in an ideal world) Photoshop can acquire an image from any scanner that also supports TWAIN.
In practice, there are often problems with an application communicating with a scanner. Either the application or the scanner manufacturer (or both) may have faults in their implementation of the API.
Typically, the API is implemented as a dynamically linked library. Each scanner manufacturer provides software that translates the API procedure calls into primitive commands that are issued to a hardware controller (such as the SCSI, USB, or FireWire controller). The manufacturer's part of the API is commonly called a device driver, but that designation is not strictly accurate: the API does not run in kernel mode and does not directly access the device.
Some scanner manufacturers will offer more than one API.
Most scanners use the TWAIN API. The TWAIN API, originally used for low-end and home-use equipment, is now widely used for large-volume scanning.
Other scanner API's are
ISIS, created by Pixel Translations, which still uses SCSI-II for performance reasons, is used by large, departmental-scale, machines.
SANE (Scanner Access Now Easy) is a free/open source API for accessing scanners. Originally developed for Unix and Linux operating systems, it has been ported to OS/2, Mac OS X, and Microsoft Windows. Unlike TWAIN, SANE does not handle the user interface. This allows batch scans and transparent network access without any special support from the device driver.
Windows Image Acquisition ("WIA") is an API provided by Microsoft.
Although no software beyond a scanning utility is a feature of any scanner, many scanners come bundled with software. Typically, in addition to the scanning utility, some type of image-editing application (such as Photoshop), and optical character recognition (OCR) software are supplied. OCR software converts graphical images of text into standard text that can be edited using common word-processing and text-editing software; accuracy is rarely perfect.
The scanned result is a non-compressed RGB image, which can be transferred to a computer's memory. Some scanners compress and clean up the image using embedded firmware. Once on the computer, the image can be processed with a raster graphics program (such as Photoshop or the GIMP) and saved on a storage device (such as a hard disk).
Images are usually stored on a hard disk. Pictures are normally stored in image formats such as uncompressed Bitmap, "non-lossy" (lossless) compressed TIFF and PNG, and "lossy" compressed JPEG. Documents are best stored in TIFF or PDF format; JPEG is particularly unsuitable for text. Optical character recognition (OCR) software allows a scanned image of text to be converted into editable text with reasonable accuracy, so long as the text is cleanly printed and in a typeface and size that can be read by the software. OCR capability may be integrated into the scanning software, or the scanned image file can be processed with a separate OCR program.
The scanning or digitization of paper documents for storage makes different requirements of the scanning equipment used than scanning of pictures for reproduction. While documents can be scanned on general-purpose scanners, it is more efficiently performed on dedicated document scanners manufactured by Atiz Innovation, Böwe Bell & Howell, Canon, Epson, Fujitsu, HP, Kodak and other companies.
When scanning large quantities of documents, speed and paper-handling is very important, but the resolution of the scan will normally be much lower than for good reproduction of pictures.
Document scanners have document feeders, usually larger than those sometimes found on copiers or all-purpose scanners. Scans are made at high speed, perhaps 20 to 150 pages per minute, often in grayscale, although many scanners support color. Many scanners can scan both sides of double-sided originals (duplex operation). Sophisticated document scanners have firmware or software that cleans up scans of text as they are produced, eliminating accidental marks and sharpening type; this would be unacceptable for photographic work, where marks cannot reliably be distinguished from desired fine detail. Files created are compressed as they are made.
The resolution used is usually from 150 to 300 dpi, although the hardware may be capable of somewhat higher resolution; this produces images of text good enough to read and for optical character recognition (OCR), without the higher demands on storage space required by higher-resolution images.
Document scans are often processed using OCR technology to create editable and searchable files. Most scanners use ISIS or TWAIN device drivers to scan documents into TIFF format so that the scanned pages can be fed into a document management system that will handle the archiving and retrieval of the scanned pages. Lossy JPEG compression, which is very efficient for pictures, is undesirable for text documents, as slanted straight edges take on a jagged appearance, and solid black (or other color) text on a light background compresses well with lossless compression formats.
While paper feeding and scanning can be done automatically and quickly, preparation and indexing are necessary and require much work by humans. Preparation involves manually inspecting the papers to be scanned and making sure that they are in order, unfolded, without staples or anything else that might jam the scanner. Additionally, some industries such as legal and medical may require documents to have Bates Numbering or some other mark giving a document identification number and date/time of the document scan.
Indexing involves associating keywords to files so that they can be retrieved by content. This process can sometimes be automated to some extent, but is likely to involve manual labour. One common practice is the use of barcode-recognition technology: during preparation, barcode sheets with folder names are inserted into the document files, folders, and document groups. Using automatic batch scanning, the documents are saved into the appropriate folders, and an index is created for integration into document-management software systems.
A specialized form of document scanning is book scanning. Technical difficulties arise from the books usually being bound and sometimes fragile and irreplaceable, but some manufacturers have developed specialized machinery to deal with this. For instance, Atiz DIY scanner uses a V-shaped cradle and a V-shaped transparent platen to handle brittle books. Often special robotic mechanisms are used to automate the page turning and scanning process.
Infrared cleaning is a technique used to remove dust and scratches from film, and most modern scanners incorporate this feature. It works by scanning the film with infrared light. From this, it is possible to detect dust and scratches that cut off the infrared light; and they can then be automatically removed, by considering their position, size, shape, and surroundings.
Scanner manufacturers usually have their own name attached to this technique. For example, Epson, Nikon, Microtek, and others use Digital ICE, while Canon uses its own system FARE (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement system). Some independent software developers are designing their own infrared cleaning tools.
- Scanned maps in GIS
- NIST Tech Beat, May 27, 2007
- "Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement". Canon. http://www.canon.com/technology/canon_tech/explanation/fare.html. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- Scanner at the Open Directory Project
- "Is Drum Scanning Really Alive and Well?" from Digital Output by Jim Rich
- "Can a Fine-Art Large-Format Photographer Find Happiness With a $30,000 Scanner?" by Bill Glickman