When is a mouse not a mouse? The answer to this riddle could well be when it is a new classification of product that owes its concept to an innovative Belgium company. This company is I.R.I.S. and the product in question is its IRIScan Mouse which, as its title indicates, combines the features of a pointing device with a hand-held scanner. The IRIScan Mouse comes with the tag line of “You swipe, it scans.”
At first glance this new breed of mouse looks like a traditional device, admittedly larger than my current rodent of choice, with a lengthy lead for attaching the mouse to a computer via USB. Predominately lacquered black in colour, with a dark green, undulating stripe running over the body, the mouse has the standard top-positioned two-button arrangement with a centrally mounted control wheel.
Further examination reveals a left-sided button which needs to be depressed in order for the mouse to switch into scan mode. Checking out the base of the mouse, there are the usual laser sensors for tracking movement plus a small scanner window that is initially covered with a protective film. This film will need to be removed before scanning items.
Before attaching this mouse to a computer you will need to install the supplied software. According to the menu that appears with the installation, there is meant to be a link to a User Manual option. However selecting this option just takes you to the IRIS website with further links that turn out to be dead ends and so offer no help what-so-ever. Hopefully IRIS will have updated its website with the relevant information in the very near future.
Once the installation has been completed its process, you can attach the IRIScan mouse and a control panel will appear. This panel will indicate that you can start and stop the scanning process using the button on the left side of the mouse while the wheel control can adjust the zoom level. Arranged along the bottom of the panel are buttons which reveal various drop-down pick lists of options.
The clearly labelled buttons are for Paste, Share, Apps, Save, Print and Edit plus Settings. As you might expect, Settings covers a variety of areas. These cover General, Save, Updates, Text recognition with a wide range of languages, Proxy settings and Advanced. The other buttons only come into play once a scan has been carried out with this new mouse.
While the IRIScan mouse can be used with a Windows desktop system, it is more suited for a laptop which probably does not have access to other scanning devices such as a dedicated flatbed or multifunction unit. When the mouse scanner is activated, you are presented with a black screen onto which the scanned image appears. A small overlaid image of the mouse sits in the top right corner of the screen and provides reminders as to the available controls. In the top left corner is a bar indicating the amount of scan memory that is currently available.
As you move the scanner mouse over a document so it will appear on screen. The build up of the image is smooth although, rather disconcertingly, the image always appears at a slight angle no matter how I held the mouse. The scanning software is intelligent enough to make any necessary adjustments to fit the various elements together if, as can sometimes happen, you raise the mouse and move to another section of the document or change the angle at which the mouse is held. Once the scan had been completed, the image is automatically adjusted so that it appeared squared rather than sloping.
Basic editing tools are available once the scan is completed. You can adjust the saturation, hue, contrast and brightness with slider bars. The background can be switched between black and white. There is freehand rotation of the image, a rubber to remove unwanted sections plus the ability to adjust the size of the scanned area,
Once you are satisfied with the scanned image, it will appear on the previously mentioned control panel along with the various options. You can drag & drop the scan into an appropriate application. The image can be pasted either as an image or editable text. Links are provided to share the scan via mail, Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. You can also upload it to Evernote (a three-month subscription to Evernote Premium is included with the package) or Google Translate. Other options include sending to a printer or being saved in various formats.
The image quality produced by the scanner, considering the size of its window, is good at 300dpi. This is true when the source material is that of a daily newspaper. Scanned text can be edited when brought into a word processor without any additional passes being necessary. Earlier I mentioned that I felt this product was more suited to a laptop system. As IRIS has included a soft carry pouch in the box, I can only presume the company is of a similar opinion to mine.
From time to time I hit the scan button by mistake. It would have been appreciated if there was some means of temporarily switching off the scan feature, possibly by the implementation of a hot key. Other than this I was happy with the performance and functionality of this product. IRIS has priced this mouse scanner at £79. You will need to be running a 1.2GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and 1GB of hard disk space running Windows XP and later.
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