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Panasonic LK-RS300U previews free-form imaging

Posted: 13 Dec 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:image scanning? usb? adapter? scanner? microprocessor?

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The Panasonic LK-RS300U provides an early glimpse of free-form image scanning, pointing toward the notion of electronic Silly Putty able to lift an image with the pass of a wand.

While the future isn't quite here yet, the LK-RS300U offers an interesting start (click for image). The mobile system comprises a small handheld scanner and larger, stationary USB adapter. The units are connected by a 3-foot cord, and both receive their power from a USB cable between the adapter and a host PC.

Delivering 24bit color scans at 150dpi or 300dpi, the design brings theoretical parallels to the principles behind an optical mouse. Panasonic takes the concept of position- and direction-savvy electronics a step further to capture and reconstruct so-called "Z scans" with reading speeds of up to 100mm/s at full resolution.

Two rubber roller wheelsone at each end of the handheld unitcapture motion, which is transferred by gear train to a pair of optical choppers. Data from the chopper readings chart the scanner wand's path. Electronic smarts correlate the wheels' position, direction and speed with scanned data so that field stitching and tiling can rebuild a structured image from an otherwise unstructured scan path.

A minimum of electronics reside in the handheld scanner. Along with two small control boards in the scan head, primarily for power circuitry and serial-to-parallel conversion, the main action centers on image acquisition. The scanner gets its light source from an RGB tricolor LED, whose output is transmitted through a diffuser bar and a roll of collimating fibers. Two long, narrow linear ccd sensor slices read reflected light to acquire the scanned image.

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Most of the electronics are in the USB adapter, a single four-layer board. The adapter uses two NEC microprocessors, one for control and USB interface (PD82555GC104) and the other presumed to be the imaging engine (PD65949GM096). A CCD sensor analog front end from Exar (XRD9827) does signal gain control and A/D conversion. The board also has 2MB of Samsung's KM416S1120 SDRAM, 64KB of Renesas SRAM (M5M5256DVP) and 8KB of Xicor E2PROM (X84641) for system memory.

With an estimated $35 to $40 manufacturing cost and ever-plummeting processor costs, one might imagine that the LK-RS300U could make an interesting add-on to more multipurpose handhelds.

- David Carey
Portelligent Inc.

David Carey is president of Portelligent, a company that produces teardown reports and related industry research on wireless, mobile and personal electronics.

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