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PiQx Xcanex – 7 ounce portable book and document scanner could make flatbeds obsolete


Scanners haven’t changed much over the years, despite the fact that technology has moved on. Most business scanners still use slow moving imaging sweeps across a glass platen, which gives great results but is also cumbersome.

The new PiQx Xcanex introduces a fully automated camera capture alternative which combines some very clever software with a lightweight and flexible hardware unit. The result is a unit that can capture 5 book pages a minute, and yet is small enough to attach to a laptop computer.

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The real smarts of the system is in the software, which is intelligent enough to detect margins, page edges, orientation and even your fingers, and adjust and remove all unnecessary parts from the captured images automatically. To use the unit you just place the document or book onto the desk, and the scanner focuses, aligns and shoots an image with the 8 megapixel camera and flash.

The software then straightens the image, removes your finger (if you were holding a book page down) and generally tidies up to deliver a flatbed quality image. The demo is very impressive, as you’ll see from the video below which features a chapter of a book being scanned in real time at around 5 ppm.

Nowadays a lot of people do ad hoc document scanning using their phone, and there are some nice apps out there which help to produce great results, but it can be really tedious to do something like a book using a phone camera. This device is a nice portable alternative which could do well in the market, especially in places like libraries where space is at a premium. The product is currently on pre-order for $249.00.

Nigel is the managing editor of the Red Ferret, as well as a freelance columnist for the Sunday Times newspaper in London. Loves tech and fancies himself as a bit of a futurist, but then don’t we all?

Nigel – who has written posts on The Red Ferret Journal.


  • I’m not sure cumbersome is the right word for sweeping scans. It would be cumbersome if I were doing the sweeps, but if the machine is doing them, as we pay them to, we don’t need to make value judgments. The nice thing about this machine appears to be the software. That same software might speed up a sweep scanner, but most of them would have no problem doing five pages a minute.
    The advantage of this machine is portability. Portable machines of any kind very rarely make their bigger brothers obsolete.

    • Good points. I guess I was using the word cumbersome to mean inelegant (sluggish?) when compared with a quick camera snapshot. And I was definitely being deliberately controversial when I suggested obsolescence. :)

    • I wonder if the software is usable with a conventional scanner.

    • It looks rather custom tailored to the hardware, but it might be worth asking the question?

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