May 21, 2015
WorldPenScan X is an interesting Kickstarted gadget that brings document scanning/OCR functionality and translation to folks on the go.
In hand, it’s not nearly as thin as (or much longer than) a regular ballpoint pen at 4.52 x 1.29 x 0.88 inches and under 2 ounces; it looks more like a mid-sized temporal thermometer. It’s mostly white, with a hard plastic finishing. The business end (which is initially hidden by a greyish cap) has the image capture hardware assembly, and tapers a bit.
Using the unit first entails pairing it to the host device via Bluetooth. This is accomplished by first downloading the companion WorldPenScan app off of Google Play, and configuring it to find the unit. After that, one has to select WorldPenScan as a current keyboard for it to work. When this is done, the app appears as a notebook-type interface.
Then it’s off to use the scanner. I tried it on several different types of text on different surfaces; boxes, books, flyers and the like. Holding the unit close to upright and dragging it along lines of text like one would use a highlighter is the basic idea, with the incorporated arrow helping the user to keep a straight path. If the scan is going a well, a green light shows at the end, and when the drag is stopped, the unit’s OCR kicks in and the translated text pops up in the app editor, along with a captured interpretation.
In practice, it is pretty interesting.
I did find it to be useful in several scenarios. Looking for and using attributable text, for instance, can be done on the go. Creating bullet points of underscored info from blocks of information is another use case, and even collecting previously highlighted data. It works as a translator too, which is pretty useful when on foreign isles. On mobile devices, one can switch back and forth between 22 languages, including English, Chinese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Dutch and more. The end result is digitized text. It does barcodes, too.
My biggest gripe has to do with the relative rigidity of usage, as it the environment and the item have to be just right to get the most accurate scans. In our usage, I found good lighting and flat surfaces along with an upright device make for the best data capture experiences. The OCR can be temperamental at times, which makes editing a bit more involved. Having to toggle the app as a keyboard every single time is a bit of drag, but not overly so.
When one considers the ease of use in combination with the functionality, it’s quite easy to fall in love with this product. It has its quirks, but none so painfully present as to preclude effective usage. At $169.95 (on Amazon), it isn’t so expensive that one is tempted to keep it in a safe, either.