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Handheld Mobile Scanner and its Killer App (for musicians at least)

Lately we’ve been involved with moving. Selling/buying a house involves documents. Many of them. And it also involves cleaning house, where you might have thousands of photos and other pieces of paper taking up space.

Google introduced a PhotoScan app for Android the other month that helps. It’s not precisely what they claim. For example, no you don’t get glare-free scans unless you’ve done something a lot more professional than ceiling lights where you’re working.

You’ve probably tried to take a picture of a picture with your phone and gotten crappy results not unlike the above. But by walking through the five-shot process that PhotoScan takes you through, you can get to this:

That’s right, it even corrects where you’ve left off some of it. But also notice that the distortion is reduced; the corners are much closer to 90 degrees. Which is the other great thing about it, which I’ll explain more later about, is you can point to the exact corners of the item being scanned, and the system compensates for any skewing or twisting.

It didn’t make it glare-free, which rendered it unusable from the spouse’s point of view on archiving photographs. But the color is nice.

Here’s where it’s good for musicians.

You’re at a rehearsal, you can’t take the parts home, there aren’t any copies, so you snap it with your phone and print it out later and you get something like this:

That’s unfortunate. Even setting the part on a well-lit floor you get this:

Which is serviceable, but not the best. But using the corners trick mentioned above, you can square everything off and actually crop the page to the ratio of the original sheet. Then when you print it out, it’s essentially just as good as the original.

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I put together shots of this nine-page part while everyone else was still packing their cases at the end of rehearsal. Printed out on my laser printer at home, they’re really easy to read. With a little extra work I could have goosed up the contrast a little and made the background go to pure white.

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