Building a cheap book scanner – Progress Report 2

To build a book scanner at the least possible price, we decided to develop a smartphone app and design a scanning device on which the phone would be connected to. The scanner itself includes a support for the phone, a support for the book to be scanned, a pedal to trigger the capture every time a page is turned and a lightening system to have good quality pictures.

            A first prototype of scanner has been built using simple elements. A selfie stick working with Bluetooth was used allowing solving both the phone fixing issue and the pedal question. The clip was fixed on the scanner and is adjustable to different sizes of phone but also to different positions to adjust to different book sizes. The selfie stick uses a Bluetooth system to connect the button to the phone and take the pictures. This system is used to build the pedal. The use of a pedal frees the user’s hands and the Bluetooth system avoids inconvenient wires. The book support itself simply consists of two sticks in between which the binding of the book comes to keep the book in place.

            The first prototype is stabilized by clipping it on the table before use. The big advantage of this option is that it makes the scanner more compact. Another option to be investigated is to build the scanner on a large but rather light base to make it more self-sufficient. It is also possible to try to make it foldable to have a more compact device.

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Overall view of the hardware
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Phone Holder
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Structure fixation
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Foot pedal – used to take the pictures to ensure hand freedom

The next step is to use this prototype to further investigate the lightning issue. The light has a lot of influence on the picture quality, it is therefore important to have a good one. Different types of lamps will be tested to try to find one that can properly reach the totality of the book. The option of putting a sort of filter on the lamp to diffuse the light will also be considered. The next thing will be to determine where to fix the lamp on the scanner to avoid shadows on the pages.

Concerning the app, the research on apps programming has now been done and after hours of tutorials reading our programming team is now ready to start with the app itself. The approach is to start with the simplest thing possible and to add complications one by one. The app would allow the user to manage his different books, scan new ones, store them, re-scan some pages etc. Ideally, the user would take the first page, do the adjustments manually, mainly cropping the image and the position of the middle of the book. The app would then memorize those choices and apply them automatically to the next pages. The user would then only have to turn the pages, holding the book flat and use the pedal to capture each page. This manual system is thought to be faster and much simpler than an automatic one; it also allows to better suite each book and will probably give a more satisfying result. The complexity of the final app will highly depend on unexpected problems encountered while programming.