• How Genius Scan helps teachers and students

    According to the New York Times, teaching during the pandemic is a challenge that many teachers never faced. The newspaper presents Sarah Gross, a high school English teacher in Lincroft, N.J., who is exhausted from teaching pupils in her classroom while at the same time instructing other students who are learning from home by video.

    Over 1.2 billion children are out of the classroom due to the pandemic. But thanks to digital tools, students properly equipped retain 25-60% more material when learning online since they can learn at their own pace. While it’s difficult for some, other teachers enjoy this situation, like Dr. Amjad, a Professor at The University of Jordan who can “reach out to [his] students more efficiently and effectively through chat groups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing […].”

    Working, teaching, learning online every day is challenging. We created Genius Scan because we wanted to make it easy to digitize paper documents. Teachers and students can benefit from this technology during these difficult times, as it enables them to share clean, legible homework assignments, even when they don’t have access to a physical document scanner.

    How Genius Scan helps our users

    Our users from the Education community are in a better position to describe how Genius Scan helps them save time in their work. Because the free version of Genius Scan is fully functional, all students and teachers can benefit from it whether they are using iOS or Android.

    “I’m teaching remotely, so Genius Scan helps me turn everything into PDFs for my students. So helpful!!!” tells Jessica, a French teacher from Illinois in the USA. “Your app has helped me immeasurably because I can scan documents, give them names, upload them and get them to my students within moments. Your app has made it easier for me to do my job.”

    Her experience is similar to another of our users, a German professor: “My students send me assignments electronically which I print out, mark, and return to them. Instead of using my scanner, Genius Scan saves me lots of time, and I can send the files directly to my email account.” It also helps her students, as you cannot assume that they have a printer at home: “My students who do not have a printer can also send me handwritten work/tests using Genius Scan.”

    A document scanner particularly shines for homework that is complicated to type on a computer keyboard, mainly when they include symbols, drawings, or diagrams. “I teach math, and typing math symbols is slow and laborious,” says Ruthy, a teacher in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, “many platforms don’t support them (square root signs, integral signs, etc.). When a student writes to me with a question about homework, it’s now easy for me to scan my written work and send it to them, instead of trying to type in words what I was doing!” An American teacher in Manhasset, NY, USA, corroborates: “[Genius Scan] allows students to submit written work, graphs, diagrams more easily.”

    How to share an assignment with your students

    There are many education apps to facilitate communications between students and teachers. Google Classroom is one of them. As an example, let’s see how to scan a document and send it to Classroom1:

    1. Open Genius Scan and tap the
    camera button to scan your document.

    2. Open the document to edit or rename it if necessary
    (learn how to edit with this tutorial).

    3. Tap the Share button.

    4. Scroll down and tap

    5. In Classroom, tap
    Create assignment.

    6. Add a title and other information
    to the assignment. Tap the share button.

    7. Tap Assign.

    8. Your assignment is ready
    to be seen by your students!

    In the end, Genius Scan is a great document scanner that lets you digitize anything you want, anywhere. The benefits of Genius Scan for education are practically unlimited. A couple years ago, a student reported being able to graduate thanks to Genius Scan. A snow storm cancelled their flight, and they couldn’t deliver their assignment in person in time: Genius Scan let them digitize it and submit it remotely before the deadline. No later than last week, a candidate to a prestigious American university needed some recommendation from a foreign contact in France. To get the recommendation letter scanned, they suggested Genius Scan to that contact. The funny story: this contact was one of our family members!

    Did you use Genius Scan for other educational purposes? We’d love to hear from you on Twitter or you can contact our customer support.

    1. At the time of writing, there is a bug with Google Classroom for iOS which doesn’t properly open PDF files sent from other apps. Hopefully, Google fixes that quickly. 

  • Genius Scan 6 – Next-Gen Scanning

    2020 was the tenth anniversary of Genius Scan’s creation. We had planned to throw a party, but the pandemic decided otherwise. Luckily, we’ve been able to focus on product development, and we’re excited to launch Genius Scan 6 today.

    Genius Scan is well-known for its high-quality scanning, and it certainly benefits years of continuous care and development. Today, we’re happy to share that we’ve entirely reworked the internals of Genius Scan 6 to rely on Deep Learning so that you experience a faster and snappier scanning flow. Besides, we packed Genius Scan 6 with new features and various improvements for both iOS and Android.

    Next-generation scanning technology

    While it’s easy to put together a poor-man’s scanning app, achieving precision, speed and quality is a different story. We’ve built up the past ten years and integrated new technologies to create the next generation mobile scanning technology to offer you much-enhanced scanning performance and quality.

    Based on Deep Learning, entirely new algorithms now powers the document detection feature. This upgrade means that Genius Scan will instantly focus on your documents, even in tougher configurations. White paper on a white desk won’t confuse the document detection anymore. Neither will your computer’s keyboard peeking in the viewfinder. Detecting the document is also much snappier, and Genius Scan doesn’t hesitate before taking the scan.

    Document detection

    We’ve rebuilt all the image enhancement filters as well. They adjust the colors, the white-balance, tackle tricky shadows on your scans, and clean the edges of your documents. If you haven’t cropped the document precisely, that’s not a problem since the filters remove any left artifact. The new color filter preserves the colors while maintaining great contrast and dark black shades for your text. The new photo filter does full justice to your family photographs by adjusting the colors with tact.

    This next-generation scanning technology is available to all users of Genius Scan for free.

    Renaming feature (iOS only)

    As the team behind Genius Scan, we’re also heavy users of our app. Over time, we noticed how cumbersome it was to rename documents that we just scanned. We saw that we always renamed them in a similar way (the date, followed by the business name or a person’s name) and that we had to type information that was already present within the document.

    Because of this burden, we developed the new Smart Document Renaming feature. Quick-and-easy, it helps you rename your documents in a few taps. Genius Scan looks at your document’s content and your existing documents’ name patterns to surface intelligent suggestions to name your document. The Smart Document Renaming also detects the document’s actual date, which is generally what you want, rather than the date you’re scanning the document. For instance, if you receive a bill in the mail and scan it today, you may want to use the actual bill’s date (which is probably a couple of days ago) as your document’s title instead of today’s date.

    Document detection

    Needless to say, Genius Scan performs this analysis entirely offline for your privacy.

    The Document Renaming feature is available on iOS 14 only at this time and is part of the Genius Scan+ premium version.

    Retake a page

    If you were scanning a document with numerous pages, an unproperly scanned page might slip into the batch. Until today, if you wanted to replace this page with a new one, you needed to append a new scan at the end of your document, move it in place, and delete the old page. As you delete a page, Genius Scan 6 offers the ability to re-take the page and frees you from this cumbersome sequence of taps.

    After 10 years of developing Genius Scan, we’re very grateful to improve it still and help everyone digitize their documents. We’d like to thank each of you who supported us, sent us feedback, and shared the word about Genius Scan with friends and coworkers.

    The basic version of Genius Scan, including the new scan technology, remains free for iOS and Android users. The Genius Scan+ premium version, including Smart Document Renaming, and other advanced features, can be unlocked for a one-time fee of $7.99.

  • How to Share Old Photo Albums With Your Family

    The Holiday Season is a time of gathering. This year makes it difficult or unreasonable for families to reunite, so you might not have the opportunity to all sit next to the fireplace to browse old photo albums together. But these early winter nights might give you some time to digitize your old paper photographs and share them with those who, unfortunately, can’t celebrate this special moment with you.

    Scanning your paper photographs

    Genius Scan is a scanner app that lets you create a high-quality, digital copy of paper photographs. With this app, you first take a photo of the picture you want to digitize. Genius Scan crops the background out to only leave what matters: the picture! Genius Scan then applies a powerful image filter that tunes the photo’s colors to make sure it renders well on screen. Last, you can quickly export your document to a shared photo album so that all your family can benefit from your initiative.

    We’ve put together a short video tutorial to show you how easy this is:

    A couple of tips for high-quality scans

    You will find that following these tips will result in better pictures.

    To optimize the automatic cropping:

    • It’s better to avoid having interfering content visible in the camera preview. Keep a single picture in the frame.
    • Hold the camera close enough to the document, and leave a part of the background apparent on all four document edges.
    • Make sure that there is sufficient contrast between the background and the photograph. In our video above, a white tabletop provided the best contrast.

    To ensure great image quality:

    • Snap your photo in a bright environment. Dim light will make it harder to get a sharp picture.
    • Be as stable as possible when taking the picture to avoid blur. It’s the same when using any camera.
    • Choose the highest resolution setting (Actual) when exporting your scans.
    • To avoid glare on the photograph, prefer a diffuse light rather than a strong spotlight. Experimenting with different locations in your house is the best way to find the right place.
    • Genius Scan tries to automatically detect the best filter to apply to the scanned document. For scanning photos, you’re likely always to want to use the Photo filter. You can force it as a default filter: under Settings > General > Default filter >, choose the Photo filter.

    Sharing a digital photo album with your family

    There are many ways to share files online. If you have Dropbox, a quick and easy solution is to create a shared Dropbox folder:

    1. In Genius Scan, to export your photos to a Dropbox folder: Open your document > Tap the Export icon > Select Dropbox > [Log in to your Dropbox account if necessary] > Choose a folder > Tap Send.
    2. Go to the Dropbox website or mobile app and share this folder with your family. As soon as you share a folder, the recipient receives an email with a link to the folder. The good news is that your family members don’t need a Dropbox account to access these files! You can admire our family photo album!

    If you’re not into Dropbox, other cloud services can help you share your photo albums: iCloud Photos on iOS or Google Photos on Android. And of course, sharing by email is still efficient. You’ll only need to verify the maximum email size capacity of your email provider.

    Now, it’s time to send your loved ones, near or far away from you, souvenirs from your childhood and cherished moments of your life.

    Happy Holidays!

  • The Signature: A Brief History

    Jacob Lew signature

    Does that signature look odd or funny to you? Surprisingly, it’s Jacob J. Lew’s signature, Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Barack Obama’s presidency in 2011. Signatures are fascinating, especially when important figures, artists, leaders or business people draw them. Usually a signature isn’t comparable to one’s writing: a signature reflects one’s unique personality and legal importance.

    Indeed, signatures are important and require codification. They can be falsified to appropriate money, goods and services. Through its evolution, one can learn about society’s progress from Antiquity to our modern era. This article, the first of a series, presents you with a brief history of the signature as an authentication tool.

    Steve Jobs signature Founder of Apple Steve Jobs’ signature.

    A signature is a handwritten symbol put on a document, a piece of paper, or other material that allows authenticating someone’s identity and consent. It can take the form of a personalized drawing or a simple mark like an “X”. A signature is the certainty of someone’s agreement or consent concerning, for example, a contract of employment, a sales agreement, or one’s identity in simple letters. Everyone can sign, and the signatory (that’s the term) can be literate, illiterate, able or disabled.

    During Antiquity, someone’s identity was verified through witnesses or by appending a seal on documents. The Sumerians and Egyptians used pictographs to convey meaning. The earliest relic we know of using words and symbols to validate identity is a Sumerian clay tablet dated back to 3100 BC. It displays marks from a scribe, Gar Ama, on which he made a list of 41 common professions.

    During the Middle-Ages, people could append marks or symbols on contracts and letters. Most of the time, these symbols were simple crosses, mere pictographs. It is not until the second half of the 11th century that we have knowledge of a document signed in the Latin alphabet. This signature was from Spanish military leader El Cid who made a donation to the Cathedral of Valencia.

    Dotation El Cid The donation to the Cathedral of Valencia on which is appended El Cid’s signature (In Latin, _Ego ruderico_ means _I, Rodrigo_, his actual first name). Open the link to zoom on the document and look for the signature on the right side of the last sentence.

    Some signatures that seem evident today, such as an artist signing its work, didn’t appear until later. In the Medieval Period, painters considered themselves craftsmen and weren’t particularly interested in posterity. Signatures had a down-to-earth role, such as mason’s marks (you can still see them on old stonework in Europe), which allowed masons to be paid for their work. Around the Renaissance, artists’ signatures started to be more common, such as the engraved signature of the now-famous Michel-Angelo on La Pietà, today housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

    michelangelo On the statue, the artist wrote “MICHAEL ANGELUS BONAROTUS FLORENTINUS FACIEBAT”, which means “Michelangelo Buonarroti the Florezian did it.”

    The signature’s usage grew in Europe, and in 1677, its legal dimension was born. That year, the English Parliament voted the Statute of Fraud Acts requiring that wills, contracts, and grants should be written and signed to avoid fraud. We consider this Act to confer to the signature the importance it has now for the English-speaking world, at least.

    As electricity was discovered and electronic tools appeared, signing automatically with mechanisms helped append one’s identity on a large number of documents. The autopen, which first models date back to the early 19th century, is still nowadays broadly appreciated by State and business leaders. Electronic arms hold and move a pen to give the signature an authenticated feel. This mechanical process, although handy, led to some polemics like the signing of the 2011 Patriot Act under Barack Obama’s presidency.

    In today’s world, where digital tools are omnipresent, signatures can be found at the bottom of digital correspondences, being emails, where the name, forename, profession, address and other elements appear in text format and end the text. Sometimes the actual drawn signatures appear to convey a more formal intention. It is important to note that today an email can have legal importance without the personalized signature’s actual presence and can be used by a plaintiff or defendant.

    To avoid falsification, numerous countries ask for the signatory to apply their signature in the presence of witnesses or a notary public to reinforce its legal character. On some legal documents, illiterate people can sign with a simple mark like an “X” as long as a literate witness also signs the document. In some countries, illiterates can append their thumbprint as a signature.

    This picture shows the Irish illiterate emigrant Ellen McCarthy’s “X” mark on a pension fund demand paper in 1864. According to the Irish American Civil War website, she is part of the women “who lost a husband or son serving with the 61st New York Infantry. [...] The woman in question was seeking to prove her relationship with the soldier [...]”. This archive comes from the Widows and Dependent Pension Files from the American Civil War.

    People with disabilities can also sign their identity on legal documents with the aid of a notary public, a typist, by power of attorney (a legal document giving one person the ability to act for another person) or physical guidance (help from someone to allow a disabled signatory to perform a movement or action). Signing can therefore be done by everyone and sometimes in numerous ways. Legislation can be quite flexible in some countries like the United States where, if no signing method is required, one can sign in any number of ways.

    The notion and importance of signature vary between countries, writing systems, and applications. Nowadays, signing digitally is commonplace: this led us to build Genius Sign, a mobile app that allows you to sign any document of your professional and personal life quickly and anywhere.

  • How Genius Scan Helps Scientists in Their Job

    More and more scientists and researchers worldwide rely on smartphone apps to gather, save, access, and share study data as they are in the lab or on the field, far from the office. Digitizing documents helps organize and secure files. It’s a critical process in this profession where notes, ideas, blueprints, and drawings are essentials. Genius Scan, our document scanning app, is a perfect companion to your favorite notebook.

    Scan and archive

    You can use Genius Scan to save high-resolution scans with full details so that none of these small but crucial pieces of information on your document disappear. Its intuitive interface makes it straightforward to capture a scan, and its image treatment and perspective correction algorithms guarantee that your files will always be legible.

    The “batch mode” in Genius Scan lets you gather successive scans into a single document, enabling you to assemble notes in a PDF file that you can later refer to for your research. Kathy McGuire, an American psychology professor at the University of Western Illinois, has relied on this ability for several years to facilitate writing after collecting raw data from the field (for instance, prisons).

    Genius Scan also applies OCR (text recognition) to documents so that their content becomes indexable. It interfaces with popular cloud drives such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, note-taking services such as Evernote or OneNote, and even offers its integrated cloud storage solution if you need additional safety. Such capabilities let you archive your documents where you are used to, guarantees that you won’t lose any of your precious research notes, and that you will be able to find them promptly when needed.

    In an article from September 28th, 2020, the Nature journal presented how scanner apps such as Genius Scan enabled a team of plant pathologists at the University of Minnesota to turn 30 years of paper lab notebooks into PDF documents as their facilities closed during the Covid-19 pandemic. These scientists relied on features such as OCR to obtain searchable documents and secure their files from deterioration.

    Organize your research

    Working as a researcher means collecting a large number of files. As a consequence, you often have to categorize and sort them. Genius Scan offers two powerful features to facilitate this process: the Smart Document Names enable you to customize the documents’ naming, and tags let you label your documents in categories.

    For scientists with more advanced needs, these capabilities offer an edge. A researcher volunteering in turtle nest protection at St George Island (Florida) “makes a scanned document for each nest and uses the smart document name in which the date and GPS coordinates are recorded along with a custom field including the nest number.” With Smart Document Names, one can use dynamic data as part of the document name, such as, for this scientist, the precise geographical location. This feature helps her collect data and send it to her project coordinator at the end of the day.

    Security and privacy

    Scientists often scan sensitive data. Genius Scan keeps and processes all the files on the device itself 1, which ensures confidentiality and security; it also abides by a strong privacy policy. On top of that, it lets you lock the app with biometrics protection (Face ID, Touch ID) and encrypt your PDF files with a password to guarantee that only those authorized will be able to access your research documents.

    As an independent marine scientist from Massachusetts sums it up, “It’s just so handy to have something so intuitive on your telephone. It’s a quick and easy way to capture most things … not always documents, I have scanned organisms with the right background.”

    If Genius Scan also helps you in your work, if you have a job story you want to share, we’d love to hear from you!

    1. Unless you enable Genius Cloud, Genius Scan’s secure cloud storage.