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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 ?
As Anderson explains, most biometric scanners store their data locally, performing the comparison there on-site, instantaneously.
Flatbed scanners continued to dominate the market, accounting for 97 percent of worldwide shipments in 1999.
While scanners have long been used by graphics professionals to create documents ready for professional reproduction, consumers are discovering that they can easily scan photographs - and often slides and negatives, if they pay for transparency modules - and then, in a computer, can alter colors, change the contrast or remove ``red eye.
The capability for multiple scanners has been built into the software.
Less-expensive scanners (hand-held or flatbed) copy only in black and white.
Digital Check scanners are known throughout the industry for producing the highest quality check images," stated John Gainer, Digital Check executive vice president.
Once confined to the desktop, scanners have become a fully portable peripheral that can scan single lines of text, convert them to editable text, and store the information for transfer to a personal computer.
Documents scanned with Kofax VRS at the point of capture will boost the success of data extraction, recognition and retrieval," said John Capurso, vice president of marketing for Xerox DocuMate scanners.
In business since 1986, Plustek delivers a wide range of document scanners meeting diverse decentralized and distributed capture needs for different applications and vertical industries.
PENTAX Imaging Company is an innovative leader in the production of mobile printers and scanners, digital SLR and compact cameras, lenses, flash units, binoculars, scopes, and eyepieces.
This Frost & Sullivan research service titled World Optical Digitizers and Scanners Market provides an overview of optical digitizers and scanners market revenues along with end-user and geographical analysis.
Addmaster's MJ4000 scanner provides banks a new dimension for branch and remote capture applications, enabling a proven and affordable check scanner solution for lower-volume capture sites.

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