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1. a device, usually electronic, used to measure or sample the distribution of some quantity or condition in a particular system, region, or area
2. any of various devices used in medical diagnosis to obtain an image of an internal organ or part
3. short for optical scanner


(computer science)
A device that converts an image of something outside a computer, such as text, a drawing, or a photograph, into a digital image that it sends into the computer for display or further processing.
That part of a facsimile transmitter which systematically translates the densities of the elemental areas of the subject copy into corresponding electric signals.
Any device that examines an area or region point by point in a continuous systematic manner, repeatedly sweeping across until the entire area or region is covered; for example, a flying-spot scanner.
A device that automatically samples, measures, or checks a number of quantities or conditions in sequence, as in process control.


An input device that takes in an optical image and digitises it into an electronic image represented as binary data. This can be used to create a computerised version of a photo or illustration.

A scanner may be linked to optical character recognition software allowing printed documents to be converted to electronic text without having to type them in at a keyboard.




(1) A synonym for antivirus program.

(2) A smartphone application that reads barcodes. See mobile tagging.

(3) An optical device that reads a printed page or transparency and converts it into a graphics image for the computer. The scanner does not recognize or differentiate in any manner the content of the material it is scanning. Everything is converted into a bitmapped image, which is a pattern of dots. See bitmapped graphics.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
Optical character recognition systems use scanners to capture printed text and convert it into computer-readable characters for editing. See OCR and document scanner.

Scanners and Cameras
Scanners are similar to digital cameras, except cameras can focus into infinity. Desktop scanners have physical dimensions that determine the size and bulk of the material that can be scanned. Automatic feeders are used to scan stacks of paper, typically for OCR jobs.

Scanners are rated in dots per inch (dpi), whereas cameras are rated in total pixels. Both scanners and cameras have an optical resolution (the real lens resolution) and an interpolated resolution computed by software. The higher the optical, the better.

Scanners are also rated by the maximum color depth of each pixel (how many colors can be stored). At minimum, scanners support 24-bit color, and many go up to 48 bits. See optical resolution, interpolated resolution, 4K resolution, document scanner, flatbed scanner, sheet-fed scanner, handheld scanner, drum scanner, slide scanner, photo scanner and digital camera.

Desktop Scanners
The flatbed scanner is the most common desktop scanner. A transparency adapter provides a light source from the top for scanning 35mm slides and film negatives. Slide scanners are specialized for only slides and film (see slide scanner).

High-End Drum Scanner
Drum scanners are used for commercial graphics production and applications that require the highest quality scanning (see drum scanner). This earlier Howtek scanner provided an optical resolution up to 4,000 dpi. (Image courtesy of Howtek, Inc.)
References in periodicals archive ?
In the academic environment, this highly sophisticated application of biometric technology can be found in some of the 60 biometric scanners at the University of Georgia.
These devices, known as pen scanners or digital highlighters, have evolved from a tethered peripheral connected to a PC to a standalone information appliance.
Students are using scanners to import images into school reports, while small-business owners are storing documents digitally and, with the aid of optical character recognition, or OCR, software, importing multiple pages of text directly into a standard word processing program for easy editing.
The system is designed to allow quick and flexible motion of any or all scanners to "see" many different angles.
The most economical hand-held scanners copy at resolutions of 300 dots per square inch, which is adequate for most clipping scans.
Digital Check scanners feature a common application programming interface which allows for quick and easy integration with USB 2.
C Technologies, Siemens, and WizCom Technologies each introduced handheld scanners in 2H99, all geared toward eliminating functionality limitations of traditional pen scanners.
The Xerox DocuMate 752 scanners also include an ISIS([R]) driver certified by Pixel Translations and an advanced TWAIN driver developed by JFL Peripheral Solutions.
Plustek's record for innovation includes several 'firsts' in the scanner industry:
5 x 14 inch paper size, the scanner offers high performance with low power consumption and connects to a high-speed USB 2.
Considering the growing need for precise and accurate measurements, significant growth is expected in the uptake of optical digitalizers and scanners across the world.
The compact scanner captures both sides of the check, reads the MICR code, and endorses the back of the item.

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