Standard could boost high-end imaging

NEW YORK - A newly proposed standard for device driv-ers that support high-volume or "production " scanners could expand the market for heavy-duty imaging systems according to vendors who announced the specification at the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) '97 trade show earlier this month.

The vendors which include scanner makers Bell+Howell Fujitsu Ltd. and Ricoh Corp. said a new version of the Twain standard for scanner drivers would make it possible for manufacturers to bring out new products faster. Adrian Lannin third-party software alliance manager with the Bell+Howell Scanner Division said the standard would allow vendors "to make advanced scanner features available to our customers in a timely fashion."

Easing Use of Applications

The pending standard could make it easier for users to field imaging applications because it would make the same drivers available for all types of scanners. To date Twain drivers - designed for desktop and flatbed scanners - have not supported such functions as bar code recognition multiple user interfaces double-sided page scanning and other features of production imaging applications common in federal agencies.

Makers of production scanners instead have relied on the Image and Scanner Interface Specification (ISIS) a proprietary driver supplied by Pixel Translations Inc. The pending Twain upgrade which would provide for the advanced scanning features now offered through ISIS would give vendors the option of writing their own drivers for their products rather than having to pay Pixel Translations to produce the software for them.

"ISIS has been a problem for scanner manufacturers from two standpoints " said Harvey Spencer an East Northport N.Y. consultant. "[There were] licensing costs for every scanner shipped and it was perceived to have some impact on getting product shipments because Pixel is always required to do the development [and] their schedule has been sometimes rather slow."

Spencer said it is too early to know whether government users will choose future Twain-compliant scanners over more familiar ISIS-based products. The new Twain specification is not yet final and vendors said they would not ship drivers and toolkits that support the standard for six to nine months.

Nevertheless companies that were not involved in writing the new Twain version including Pixel Translations are getting ready to back the standard. "If that's something people want we'll be happy to write production Twain drivers " said Kimra Hawley senior vice president and general manager of the software division of Cornerstone Imaging Inc. Pixel's parent company.

Meanwhile Pixel this summer plans to issue a new version of its ISIS Scanner Driver Developer's Kit which would let vendors write their own ISIS drivers. Patrick Barr product marketing manager for scanners with Eastman Kodak Co.'s Business Imaging Systems unit said customers would have to determine which driver would be easiest to integrate with their applications as well as the costs involved with using either specification.

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