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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mobile Virtual Office Tip - Use Your Camera As a Scanner

By Kevin A O'Brien

If you're part of the growing number of professionals who have made the decision, or are otherwise able, to work from home you've probably put together a "virtual office" in order to conduct business remotely. If you like to travel, or your business requires you to do so, your virtual office probably has some degree of mobility. The basics would be a notebook computer, removable storage devices and an online collaboration service or access to your company's network via VPN. There are some types of office equipment that just don't lend themselves to travel, especially if you like to travel light. Scanners, for example, come in portable versions but it's just one more piece of equipment to purchase and lug around. Why not use something you're going to carry anyway? Your camera or camera-enabled mobile phone could be the perfect substitute.

Your digital camera or mobile phone camera can double as your scanner when you're on the road. Combine that with an online fax, or email-to-fax, service and you've got a portable fax machine. The quality may not be as good as your office scanner, but acceptable reproductions are possible. Some digital cameras even have a built in "document mode" which configures the camera settings to effectively photograph print on paper. Check your camera's documentation to see if yours does.

If you're a smartphone user and your phone has a built-in camera, there is software available designed to turn your phone's camera into a document scanner. iPhone users have options as well that will enable them to make electronic document reproductions using their phones. An important note for iPhone users is that they will have to find the optimum distance from the camera to the document in order for the 'scan' to be in focus. The key to quality reproductions, regardless of the device you use, will depend on focus and lighting. One thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep your camera as parallel as possible to the document being 'scanned'. You may have to turn off your flash in order to avoid glare that will render your image unreadable.

Why burden yourself with the extra weight of carrying a mobile scanner, not to mention the cost of acquisition, when you can use your camera or mobile phone to get the job done? Your mobile virtual office needs to be just that... mobile. Smart travelers travel light. If you're interested in device or software specifics, or more mobile virtual office tips visit The Mobility Guy.

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