Smartphone cameras are undoubtedly handy for snapping a picture of a receipt, memo or other note to quickly record or remind you of some task that needs taking care of. It's faster than using a dedicated scanner, but the results are often below par. Scanbox aims to improve the quality of these phone camera "scans" by providing a portable stage that puts the camera and the subject in just the right position.
Scanbox is made of durable, laminated card that folds to create a stand for your phone similar to a lightbox used for photography. Once set up, the phone sits on top at the correct height to get a photo of documents up to a maximum of US Letter and A4 paper size. Scanbox can also be used to record receipts, photograph a page from a book, scan a printed photo or photograph any object that fits in the box.
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When not in use, Scanbox folds up and stays folded with the same magnets that hold it in place when it's set up as a scanning box.
The design works independently of any apps and can be used with iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Windows phones, or any other smartphone camera. Scanbox just provides the stage.
"As long as there is a camera on the back of a smartphone it should be good to go," Scanbox creator Phil Bosua told Gizmag. "I guess this is the beauty of such a simple design, it just works."
One of the first steps in the development process was finding the right height for scanning and getting a readable image.
"We set up a tripod and found the exact height required by the iPhone 4/4S to take an image of a US letter and A4 document," says Bosua. "We researched other smartphone focal lengths and found they were similar to the iPhone - so we determined this height could be the starting point for all other measurements of Scanbox."
The project is registered with Kickstarter and the inventors, Australian-based LimeMouse Apps, are looking to raise $12,500 in pledges to get the Scanbox to market. A $15 pledge (plus $3 in the US and $10 for international shipping) gets you a Scanbox. Pledges of $25 or more goes toward Scanbox+, a Scanbox with a strip of LED lights to provide a light source.
To date LimeMouse has made a handful of iPhone apps including Tasty Meals Anyone Can Cook: Curry Edition; The Solar System; Leonardo's Lexicon; Grays Anatomy Premium; Presidents of the United States; Geography Tutor: Australian States and Cities Premium Edition and Surgical Anatomy. Scanbox will be the first project from LimeMouse that isn't software based.
"This is the first IRL product we have produced although we have a couple more approaching final stages of prototyping," says Bosua. "It's been a nice change after three years of software design."
With 52 days left to meet a goal of raising $12,500 in pledges, LimeMouse's Scanbox has received almost $8,000 from 287 backers. The pledge period ends on July 7 and still requires just over $4,000 in order to meet production goals.
Bosua runs us through the Scanbox in the video below.
Finally, if the Scanbox strikes you as familiar, it may be because you've come across the Modahaus Steady Stand we looked at last December, or perhaps even the Simp-Q from 2010. Though conceptually similar, the Steady Stand 200 we covered was geared more towards product shots. However, Modahaus has since launched the Steady Stand 300, expressly designed for US letter and A4-sized documents. So, if you're in a hurry, the 300 may be the answer. But at £29.99 (more than $47), it's clearly the more expensive option.