Palm OCR is Finally coming!

Earlier this week WizCom Technologies announced they are developing a scanning Pen module for the Visor. The QuickLink Pen is of particular interest to all Palm OS owners, because connectivity with it would make "pocket OCR" a reality. Read all about it in this exclusive article by Mike Cane.

Palm OS OCR is Finally Coming!
Mike Cane (
October 28, 1999
A Palm Infocenter Exclusive

Earlier this week, WizCom Technologies announced it would develop an OCR Springboard module for Handspring's Visor, called the QuickLink Module. Reliable sources have provided additional information which is of interest to non-Visor PalmOS owners too.

WizCom Technologies is the manufacturer of two handheld pen-like scanning devices: QuickLink Pen, which can read text and put it in electronic form to upload to a PC; and the Quicktionary line of multilingual readers, which can read text in various languages and provide translations on its built-in screen. The QuickLink Pen is of particular interest to PalmOS owners, because connectivity with it would make "pocket OCR" a reality.

Beginning in December 1999, all PalmOS owners will be able to "pour" text in directly from the QuickLink Pen via IrDA connection. This capability will be provided via a PalmOS program to be made available from WizCom Technologies' website. This will allow all IrDA-equipped PalmOS units -- including Visors -- to have "pocket OCR" before the end of the year. Impatient Visor owners will not have to wait for the Springboard QuickLink Module.

Second, cellphone IrDA connections to the QuickLink Pen will also be possible. (I will leave the possible uses for this feature to the imaginations of those who, unlike me, actually like and use cellphones.)

The QuickLink Pen currently provides both serial and IrDA connections to PCs. In the first quarter of 2000, USB connectivity will also be made available, allowing faster text transfers to PCs (and, one hopes, to Macs as well).

Other features for the QuickLink Pen that will be forthcoming sometime in the first quarter of 2000 are speech annotation, bar coding, and, incredibly, graphic capture.

WizCom Technologies intends its QuickLink Pen product to become a platform by releasing an SDK for developers to create additional applications. It is currently the only pen-like OCR device on the market that is both upgradable and expandable.

In a report describing events at Internet World 1999, I stated:

I want to be able to scan materials from books, magazines, and newspapers at home, the public library (especially there -- the copy machines seem to be leftovers from the USSR!), research libraries, and at offices (not to mention trade shows!) [... a]nd I want to be able to do this with a PalmOS unit (be it a Palm or a Visor or a TRG). [...T]hink of it -- college students have to go through books (often books that cannot be removed on loan, from research libraries) for thesis materials, businesspeople often come across interesting printed information they just *know* they should carry with them, and all of us sooner or later come across some paragraph or short item we'd like to keep (often we clip it out on paper!). It is my belief that the Visor's Springboard slot makes the market for palmheld OCR a reality.
I was too pessimistic; believing that a Springboard module was the only way to achieve true "pocket OCR." WizCom Technologies' QuickLink Pen will allow all PalmOS owners to do it via IrDA. And sooner than I had ever expected or even hoped possible.

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Skeptical Penis @ 10/28/1999 7:06:30 PM #
They should include a light sensor in the Palm pilot as well as the IR so you can use the light sensor to scan pictures , documents , people's faces and other cool applications light mesasureing light levels for various real world mesaurements

This vs. barcode reader?

Pock @ 10/28/1999 10:29:03 PM #
I'm hard pressed to think of a use for this that cannot largely be replaced by a barcode reader. Under what circumstances would one be a) in the field where they don't have a flatbed scanner and b) where they cannot move the object to where there is one available? Entering data from a business card--okay, take a look at a picture of the thing, would you carry a pen that size in your suit? And how many other people have Palms that can directly IR you their information? Okay, perhaps taking notes from a newspaper; how much information can you get online? All of AP and Reuters, and most major newspapers publish online, it would be simpler just to copy it from any computer--possibly including your Palm--which is on the Internet. Notes from a textbook in school? For crying out loud, writing the thing out is what largely stores the material in one's brain. And all that barcoded information--from addresses on envelopes to most anything you buy at the store--how hard would it be to make an OCR pen also read barcodes?
So maybe I'm being a bit tough. Don't get me wrong, I think that it's a fantastic idea. But not worth the several hundred dollars they'll probably charge. If someone's specifically out there entering data, there are better ways for most. It's too big and too expensive, I would assume, to use it occasionally; if it was $20 I'd buy one. Some niche markets exist, I'm sure, but this would have to go above and beyond any expectations in terms of recognition speed and reliability, as well as cost, size, and weight, to enter into widespread use.

If anyone wants me to review one, though, just drop me a note, I'd be happy to. ;)" CLASS=NEWS>

RE: This vs. barcode reader? @ 10/29/1999 12:39:42 PM #
Barcodes are for inventories. Barcodes are a language all their own that most human eyes cannot read. Contrary to Gen X/Y/Z delusions, most of printed human history is *not* to be found on the Net. People still deal with paper, and getting the words off paper is what these devices are all about. If all I want to keep from a book or magazine or newspaper are some paragraphs, why should I buy the entire thing? Borrow (or look at) it from (or at) a library, scan in the references, and have it (sorry, my fellow writers!). If you can't see a use for it, you just don't deal with enough paper matter in your life and it's not for you. Other people do, and this is perfect for them (and me). mc

OCR for PalmOS--I'd Buy It

Kurt Tappe @ 10/28/1999 11:03:30 PM #
I want to reduce paper clutter in my life. Don't we all? And this is an excellent way to do so. No more losing that slip of paper someone handed us or that copy we made at work or in the library or whereever. It's all on your Palm AND it's searchable! A true revolution!


Justin Ng @ 10/29/1999 1:14:13 PM #
As a high school student, one of the major advantages I've found taking notes on my Palm is that I can study anywhere: on the bus, at a restaurant, even in a movie theatre.

OCR looks promising because it would allow me to store textbook chapters or teacher handouts, and give them the portability I already enjoy from my class notes.

My question is this: why limit to text? Why not make a greyscale scanner, with OCR as an option. It would be a convienient way to get imageviewer pictures.

RE: Promising
mikecane@palminfocenter @ 10/30/1999 11:45:49 AM #
They are using their existing technology, which is an OCR scanner. Since the scanner is expandable and upgradable, grey-scale graphic scanning can be added later. And will be, according to my sources. I'm probably one of the few people who hasn't been impressed with my screen's ability to display graphics. But then, I'm still with a P III. mc

Palm OCR

Dondi @ 11/9/1999 2:33:34 AM #
What about for the few of us who don't have IrDA on
our Palm (e.g. Professionals). I sure wish they would
create an interface cable which can go into the hot
synch port and then feed text into the memo app.
After all, this port already accepts text input from
keyboard such as GoType.

Palm OCR

Launchpad @ 12/9/1999 1:56:37 PM #
I spoke with a rep at wizcom today and was notified that there will be an "add on" application released in mid Jan that will allow the Quicklink pen to transfer directly to the Palm.

quicklink pen

elliott @ 2/1/2000 3:02:01 PM #
will i be able to scan to memo pad in palmpilot


sal @ 6/17/2003 6:56:15 AM #
i need any code for ocr on the palm...