Suggestions to improve the Lexmark Scanner


Somehow I deleted the last posting on this subject so I get to recreate it.

One of the pieces of hardware that gets a lot of use in my class (and in the class of other teachers who are beginning to use Evernote as Portfolios) is the Lexmark Scanner. I have written about its use previously and wanted to add some ideas for ways this technology could be improved.

As I presently use it, in my classroom, it works just fine. I have 23 students, each who have an individual Evernote widget. When they want to scan something they place the paper on the scanner or document feeder, hit their widget and away it goes. This is great and revolutionary. But as I am in the business of making things work better I have some suggestions that could greatly improve the long term viability of this Evernote-Lexmark partnership.

#1. If you use the scanner you can never ADD things to an existing note. This is fine if you haven’t created a portfolio note yet, but if you have already started a portfolio note, added a bunch of work and want to scan something in, it won’t work. In the long run that means my students have to photograph final work, which isn’t as nice as putting it through a scanner.

#2. As I begin to set up Evernote for Portfolio accounts school-wide, and start adding many more scanners around the building, there needs to be someone that has to manage all the accounts on all the Lexmark Scanners. The scanners can only hold up to 75 individual Evernote widgets, which means that students are tied to ONE scanner. We don’t have the ability to have all students in the school be on all the scanners. PLUS that would be a nightmare to set up. No one would want to constantly be updating all the scanner with all the individual kids. Adding each individual Evernote email account to the online Smartsolutions website is time consuming, especially when you have a large group of people to enter. This is the managerial headache.

#3. When students move to new classes or teachers throughout the year or at the end of the year, all the departing students have to be removed from the scanner and put on a new one. Again, a managerial headache, especially when deal with 365 people.

MY SUGGESTION:

Each scanner should have an Evernote widget that brings the user to a log in screen (just like on mobile devices) In that way any student can use any scanner around the building. In addition, once you log in you would be prompted to add a document to a particular note or given the opportunity to create a new one. Of course this is a problem for the programers to figure out, but the result, for the end user, especially at schools or larger organizations that use Evernote and Lexmark Scanners would be significant.

Below is my visual brainstorm for those who want “Just the Facts”.

20120503-142236.jpg

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6 responses to “Suggestions to improve the Lexmark Scanner

  1. Rob,
    It\’s nice to see that there are people who think they can make an impact one class and school at a time. I was thinking about delema about the scanner, in my opinion you shouldn\’t even buy scanners/printers that have that level of integration with services that tend to more a lot cater then the hardware does. If you can decouple the two parts you will be able to move on to something better on either side software or hardware with out having to wait for change on the other side or throw away working technology to upgrade one side.

    So for example if you have 18-24 month cycle on scanners and printers would it be nice to just unplug old device and plug the new one in and be done with it in 5-10 mins? Not having to move user accounts and profiles to a new device. And same on the interface. Once you get new scanners and have your widgets in it and let\’s say 3 months pass and you need to change the where the scanned documents path goes (for whatever reason). You wouldn\’t want to request a hardware manufacture to upgrade their interface.

    I guess where I\’m going with this is have you looked into getting outdated andriod or similar devices that could be plugged into the scanners (or if the scanners were wireless would be even better) and put the method of attaching scanned doc through them and if you enable wi-fi on the tablets/used phone even you would save on your network wireing costs. Would give you the freedom to move the scanner where you wanted anytime.

    Oh and one last suggestion, if you are using QR code could you print one out for each user as a keychain. So they could simply scan their barcode scan and done. You could also stichup a way to add docs to already created notes.

    Paresh.

    • Paresh,

      Thanks for the thoughts, instights and ideas. The hardware needs to be flexible and upgradable. Rather than throwing out the scanners for the latest update it would be great if the software that runs the scanners could just be upgraded. I am not a software engineer but I imagine those things are very doable. Of course then companies sell less scanners and make less money. I don’t know if there is the incentive.

      The lexmark is wireless but I don’t know if I can run them through the mobile devices. If you know how that could be done please let me know. I’d love to give it a try.

      I like the QR code idea on a keychain. I want to explore the use of QR codes more with portfolios.

      Rob

      • Rob,
        I think Android based hardware would be a platform that can provide the flexibility, simplicity and extendability your looking for. Think about the current problem, you have hard ware that works well but you can modify the interface to it (even though, it would be possible).

        You would not need lots of Android devices, just maybe one per scanner. You could build a native application for it or you could just hook up a PC to your wireless spot, then just build a website based user interface that you would access through the android device and your PC would drive the scanners. Because you would not have any users using the PC it could handle many scanners attached to it.

        The androids would provide a device with browser and OS (that would be upgraded by Google for many years to come), it also would give the means to scanning your QR codes. You can just have the android glued to the wall near a scanner, a user would just scann their code the android device could just call the PC to start the scann and upload to Evernote. If you ever wanted to change scanners or the UI for the users there would be nothing stoping you, you can wipe the whole device and deploy only one app on it if you want.

        If you ever wanted to get just one more scanner that was large bed you could and just install the print driver and have all your user kiosks work instantly with it. you wouldn’t have to worry about having to replace all scanners at once, you could mix and match. If you ever found a better/cheaper wireless device that supported a basic browser you can toss the androids and hook the new device up while keeping you scanners. Anything that tries to be All-in-one is almost the painful route to take.

        I would not user iOS devices because you need permission to put apps on it. You cannot do many custom things with out going through apple, MIFI for example. It takes nearly ~$10k in fees and licensing to get a hardware device attached to iOS device that you would use for non production use. It’s the talk of the town right now and it is very attractive indeed, but it comes at a cost. Sure you can slap a 7″ screens with Window interface, but I don’t think you need to even do the research to compare the cost of android device vs windows+hardware. I think you would be able to pick up a new android 7″ for about $80-$100/unit, you will never have to pay for an upgrade. And because your PC would be processing the actual files you wouldn’t need top of the line slates.

        For the server I only recommend PC over linux or Mac is you can find a lot more scanners that have drivers for it.

        I worked in Platform R&D for nearly 10 years as developer and analyst, one of our projects we built a full ondemand one off printing and engraving software that produces 1.5 million individual custom peaces a year. We spent over 3 years building the package, we didn’t focus on making new technology work we focused on our broken process work, and make a one of a kind in our industry. We had RFID that were attached to bottom of tray that triggered the printing process without user ever touching the keyboard.

        HP Scanner
        ^
        |
        |
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        Evernote PC Lexmark Scanner
        ^
        |
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        Andriod-Wifi

        No Wires to run all over the building! No Worrying about moving equipment around. I don’t know what you would find other then an Andriod that came with Wi-Fi + QR Reader + Browser + SoftwareUpgrades + Open Source APIs. You can change your any one the node in your setup. If Evernote kicked the bucket (i doute it will) you can just point your data to dropbox or google or server in someones basement.

        To run as your server that can be accessed from the wire-less device. For your server you should maybe look into WordPress plugins That have hooks to Evernote, then use a mobile template with a little bit jQuery maybe to bring up the camera to scann. Drupal is another source to drive your PC. But if you can pull of some custom JSP or php it will be better in the long run as you won’t have to worry about WordPress upgrading.

        I don’t think you need a native app for android but you should check out http://www.appcelerator.com/ to build one with out learning the full driod platform. I would only write only whats needed as a native part of andriod, you can open an application just to scann code and go back to browser right after. There are others but I have never really used them as I’ve dev native apps for driod and ios. and server and desktop.

        Let me know if you have a hard time finding a solution.

  2. I did not have a scanner so I looked to other options. Now I use an image scanner on my dad’s Iphone which uses character and handwriting recognition to scan the paper. Really impressive. All hale technology!

    • I often use the image scanners on the iphone or itouch as well. Several of them are integrated with Evernote so it works quite well. The image quality isn’t as clear as with a scanner but if that is what you have use it. The image is good enough..

  3. which Lexmark scanner do you use in your school/classroom?

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